In case you missed it, (and judging from the general apathy towards hockey in this country, you probably did) the Blackhawks tied an NHL record for biggest comeback when they beat the Calgary Flames in overtime on Monday. Calgary scored 5 goals before the first period was barely past the halfway mark, chasing starting goalie Christobal Huet after he surrendered the first 3 goals. Rookie Antti Niemi replaced Huet and promptly gave up 2 goals of his own. The Hawks managed to score once in the first, on a goal from John Madden and headed for the first intermission down 5 to 1. Game over, right?
Wrong. The Blackhawk offense came out strong in the second period and simply dominated the Flames. Patrick Kane, Dustin Byfuglien, and Davey Bolland scored a goal apiece to bring the Blackhawks within one. It was almost like a different team came out to play in the second period. The Hawks were all around shitty in period one, looking flat-footed and sloppy. The unit that came out in the second used their speed to skate rings around their opponents. They were aggressive and kept the puck in the Calgary end for most of the period.
The third period was more evenly matched, as the Hawks came down to earth a little bit. At the 4:32 mark, Patrick Sharp put the tying goal past Miikka Kiprusoff. After the two goals he allowed in the first period, Niemi settled down and blocked the other 13 shots the Flames sent his way. The game went into overtime, but Brent Seabrook only needed 26 seconds to end the game with his winning goal.
This was one of the best hockey games I've ever seen, especially considering that the Hawks were complete shit for the first 20 minutes. It would have been so easy for these guys to just have rolled over and quit for the final two periods. I think this game was further proof that these kids are the real deal and hopefully are going to be a presence in the league for seasons to come. The only issue I see going forward is at goalie. Christobal Huet does not seem like the guy the Blackhawks can rely upon to take them deep into the post-season again. Niemi may be a rookie, but aside from his shaky first period Monday night, he's looked like the stronger goalie. Before it's all over, the Blackhawk front office may regret not resigning the Bulin Wall, who has looked solid in his outings with Edmonton so far this season. I guess we'll have to wait and see how long a leash Joel Quenneville gives Huet in the weeks to come.
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