Game #34: Wild 3, Hawks 5 – I’m Just Trying to Keep My Head Above the Ground

Patrick Kane picked a good time to have a hat trick. Yes, the third goal was an empty netter but you know what? After the debacle against St. Louis last night someone had to step up and it might as well be Kane. This team needed to bounce back in any way at all, and this game at the very least shows that they haven’t totally quit. Let’s take a look:

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

–The Hawks proved yet again that they’re specialists at blowing a multi-goal lead. Yet, tonight was definitely not as egregious as Saturday against the Blues. The Hawks played well in the first in fact, going up 2-0 thanks to Patrick Kane’s give-a-shit meter hovering around 6.5 for a while. Hell, one of those goals was even on the power play, so things were looking up. Unfortunately Kirby Dach took a penalty immediately after the second goal, and that led to the Wild’s first, but overall the Hawks were decent—they only gave up 9 shots in the first, had a 50 CF% at evens, and yes, they were in fact winning.

–That all changed, of course, when noted offensive powerhouse Kevin Fiala went off for a couple goals. He tied it at 2 in the second, the Hawks went back ahead on David Kampf‘s redirect of a Connor Murphy shot, and then Fiala tied it again. This is obviously frustrating since they cannot hold a lead to save their lives, but it wasn’t the ass-waxing they got in the span of just a couple minutes against the Blues last night.

Olli Maatta had a tough night. He got burned on Fiala’s first goal, which was a blocked pass by Kane and then Maatta just couldn’t come anywhere close to catching him. And it was Maatta’s skate that redirected Fiala’s shot and became his second goal, tying the game yet again at 3. The first was definitely his fault, if you can consider slowness as a personal failing (I can and do), but the second was just one of those things that happens. Again, maddening to see them blow a lead but it was such a weird situation there’s not much you can point to that could or should have been different.

–And besides, that luck came back around to the Hawks with Connor Murphy’s shot (there he is again!) that was crazily redirected by Saad going up and over Kaapo Kahkonen for the go-ahead goal. It wasn’t the prettiest or most coherent of strategies, but whatever, we’ll take it. I spent the remaining four minutes of the game gnawing at my fingernails expecting them to blow it again, and I can only imagine most of the crowd at the UC felt the same way.

–But, lo and behold, Garbage Dick staved off a total collapse with the empty netter than sealed it.

–Stupid Alex Nylander was on the second line with Strome and Kane, and he assisted on Kane’s first goal so of course we’ll now see him in the top 6 again until he has another night like last night, with 4,872 dumb plays being out of position. He was already back to his clueless antics later in the game, with a lazy dump-in from the wrong side of center that became a late icing. It didn’t lead to a goal and it wasn’t the end of the world, but it’s just more evidence of careless stupidity and a lack of awareness on Nylander’s part. All I can figure is that Bowman et. al are so terrified of acknowledging the short-sightedness of trading Jokiharju for this jamoke that they’re determined to shoehorn him anywhere and everywhere, as long as it’s not in the AHL. Nylander constantly looks surprised and frightened when the puck comes his way, and one pass to one of the most talented scorers in the league doesn’t change that.

So this wasn’t exactly a dominant performance, but it was definitely what the Hawks needed. They gave up a very acceptable 26 shots, and although their possession numbers in the second and third were underwater, they managed to keep their shit together even after giving up the lead twice, and it paid off. I guess the downside is that Jeremy Colliton keeps his job a little bit longer, but that’s a price I can deal with if it means not watching the hot mess express for a second night in a row.

Line of the Night: “Every time he’s tried that in the NHL it hasn’t worked—you’re not playing 18-year-olds.” —Pat Foley criticizing Kirby Dach for a nifty move that was well defended, because apparently yelling at the kids is helpful right now.

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