In one of the strangest finishes to a playoff game I’ve seen in quite some time, the Chicago Blackhawks got a game-tying goal from Patrick Kane while shorthanded, and the offending player, Marian Hossa, scored the game winning goal in overtime just seconds after his penalty ended. The crazy ending gave Chicago a 3-2 series lead over the Nashville Predators, who will be none too happy about the way this one shook out.
Hossa was in the box for five minutes after being handed a major penalty for boarding, but was not ejected from the game, despite the fact that the player he hit, Dan Hamhuis, was knocked out of the game. The fact that Hossa scored the winning goal made the controversy that much more relevant, and certainly lifted a heavy load from his shoulders, as he quickly went from being the villain to the hero in Chicago. Patrick Kane’s goal with just 13 seconds left on the clock in the 3rd forced overtime, and was the first time a player had scored a game-tying goal while shorthanded with the goalie pulled in the postseason. >
The wild ending fit well with the rest of a very wide open game that saw both team’s squander 3rd period leads before the Hawks prevailed in overtime. David Legwand scored the game’s first goal, beating Rinne with a wrist shot just over 6 minutes into the first, but Chicago would score the next 3 goals to take a 3-1 lead into the 3rd.
Andrew Ladd outmuscled a Nashville defender to lift a loose puck over Rinne midway through the first, and defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson scroed his first playoff goal five minutes later with a blast through traffic that Rinne didn’t see until it was too late to make the save. Late in the 2nd period, Tomas Kopecky burned through the neutral zone and picked up a loose puck ahead of the Nashville blueliners before dangling Rinne to give the Hawks a 2 goal lead heading into the final minutes of the period. Joel Ward scored a crucial shorthanded goal with less than 3 minutes left in the 2nd, tying the game and setting up a wild 3rd period.
Early in the 3rd, Martin Erat’s one timer off Legwand’s pass cut Chicago’s lead in half just a minute and a half into the game. Erat scored his 2nd goal of the night with a low shot that caught Antti Niemi with his five hole open to tie the game with over 9 minutes left to play. After Hossa’s high speed collision with Dan Hamhuis seemed to end any chance of Chicago’s comeback, Pat Kane’s heroic goal with only seconds remaining forced overtime and gave Hossa a chance to make amends for his penalty.
The Predators won’t be able to regret this loss for long, as they’ll have to win at home on Monday night to avoid being eliminated. Rinne finished the game with 27 saves, while Niemi finished with just 17, as Chicago held the Predators to just 21 shots, 13 of which came in the final 25 minutes.