Jonathan Toews, third from right, celebrates with teammates Marian Hossa and Brian Campbell after scoring the game winning overtime goal against St. Louis Blues goalie Ty Conklin on Wednesday.
The title refers to the first goal that got the Hawks off their resperator for the season, and it also refers to the game that got it done.
Was it pretty? No. Was it an effort to encourage you? Probably not. Is it what was required? ... Aren't the two points in the bag? ... Am I going to keep asking myself questions?
It was clear in the first period the Hawks were feeling every bit of their nerves. What didn't help was one of their best players, Marian Hossa, making some boneheaded pass in his own zone that left T.J. Ohsie a Tolstoy-amount of time to fire home, which David Backes unknowingly deflected in. The rest of the frame, you could just see the Hawks squeezing it. You know this is happening when passes that seem simple miss their target, or when they do reach it they bounce off the sticks of players who know better.
The Hawks could have gotten out of jail sharpish when they were handed a 5-on-3 after the customary doofus penalties by the Blues, this time by Ryan Reaves and B.J. Crombeen. But for some reason, after all this time the Hawks still haven't figured out that the point men should be on their off wings, i.e. a right-handed shot on the left point and vice versa, which opens them both up to one-timers. So naturally that opportunity frittered away, and the natives got restless.
The 2nd didn't start much better, with St. Louis on a power play. Niklas Hjalmarsson decided it was time for a mai tai and went for a change with the Blues in possession and coming forward, leaving villain-for-a-decade T.J. Oshie all alone and not making a mistake.
But then, luck intervened.
Should it have been a goal? Almost certainly not. Are the Hawks due one of these calls? They most certainly are, if you even only consider the Brent Seabroook "goal" in Dallas that wasn't, even though goalie Kari Lehthonen caught it with his elbow over the goal line. Did Hossa kick it? Yep. Did he get his stick on it after? Probably not. Did it cross the line? I have no idea. Am I asking myself questions again because this team has sent me to a rubber room? Yeah.
But the Hawks took that break and progressed on it. Ben Smith and Chris Campoli got aggressive and created a goal-mouth scramble that Tomas Kopecky made good. Later, Duncan Keith showed this thing that he's not been familiar with all year -- it's called patience -- which allowed him to find Nick Leddy with traffic in front to send the Hawks ahead.
Those of us who wanted the Hawks to then bury the Blues in the 3rd were sadly disappointed. They came out as if terrified they might have to change their underwear. They got a power play late that could have ended it, and they sleepwalked through it. It wasn't long after that Leddy and Keith were re-enacting Who's On First while Chris Stewart charged through them to even it.
But when you have Toews, there's a chance. And here we are.
-Very well Nick Leddy's best game in the NHL. He was more assured with the puck and not afraid to jump in the play. His first multi-point game, which helps cancel out the goal-against he's at least half responsible for.
-Isn't it funny that emergency call-up Ben Smith can be trusted for over 10 minutes and take shifts in OT, but "plan all along" Marcus Kruger is a healthy scratch?
-Only Keith cracked 25 minutes.
-Chris Stewart is going to be a figurative prostate exam for Hawks fans for a decade.
-Patrick Sharp gutted it out, but he looked off, as one would when you've been out over two weeks and haven't even had a practice. But that's a leader.
Far from out of the woods yet, but it helps.