On Wednesday night, the Chicago Blackhawks had plenty of moments where they could have put their heads down and given up against the Montreal Canadiens. After the game went scoreless for two periods, the Canadiens struck first. The Blackhawks found the equalizer with just over 10 minutes to play in the third period, but the Canadiens put themselves back on top just 22 seconds later.
It’s one of the most frustrating things that can happen in hockey. Sometimes goals are very hard to come by, but when you’re playing against a team that is seemingly blocking every shot (the Canadiens blocked 24 to the Blackhawks 7), it’s even more frustrating when the opposing team regains the lead the shift after you’ve finally found a way to convert.
The Blackhawks could have laid over and died, but they fought until the very end, continually getting shots on Peter Budaj and continuing their physical play. The Blackhawks are known for their superior offensive talent, but people forget that they can also play a hard nosed game when they need to. Bryan Bickell and Brent Seabrook combined for eight hits in Wednesday night’s game and still kept a fast pace throughout.
As the game headed into its final minutes with the Blackhawks still down a goal, things didn’t look great. Their one goal came from Jeremy Morin, who only has four all season, and with their top offensive threats in Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews both sidelined, someone had to step up.
Enter Marian Hossa.
With 48 seconds left, Hossa found a way to put one behind Budaj and the most experienced player left on the roster came through at the most crucial time to send the game to overtime.
Even with a playoff spot firmly cemented, the Blackhawks played like the postseason has already begun. They could have loafed around and sulked because No. 19 and No. 88 weren’t on the ice, but that just isn’t the message that’s taught in Chicago. As the overtime period started, it just felt like the momentum was in the Blackhawks’ favor.
The goal that won the game was fluky. Budaj certainly should have stopped Patrick Sharp‘s weak wrist shot that somehow rolled by him and across the line, but sometimes the hockey gods repay you when it’s needed most.
The Blackhawks proved why they are going to be a tough out in the playoffs this year.