Well Worth The Wait

Hawks win their first playoff game in seven years, 3-2

The biggest question about the Blackhawks going into their first playoff game in seven years on Thursday night was how a young and inexperienced team would react to the added pressure and intensity of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  For the first period and half, the answer was not well.

The Hawks came out of the locker room a bit tight and it showed in the way they played.  Passes were missing their mark, and the Hawks were spending way too much time in front of their own goal as the Calgary Flames put the pressure on early.  Pressure that eventually paid off in an easy goal for David Moss as he camped in front of Nikolai Khabibulin and put in a rebound attempt.

This sucked all the life out of the crowd at the United Center until Cam Barker tied the game for the Hawks with a slapshot from the circle in the second period.  Still, even after the Hawks tied the game, Calgary seemed to be in control of the game.

So when Mike Cammalleri gave the Flames a 2-1 lead early in the third period, things didn't seem too promising for the Hawks.

Thankfully Martin Havlat is wearing the Indian head sweater.  Havlat scored a goal unassisted with 5:33 left in the third period after getting a rebound of his own shot and slinging another wristshot past Mikka Kiprusoff.  The third period would come to an end with the score tied at two, but it was clear by the Hawks 12-4 edge in shots on goal during the final frame that they grabbed all the momentum.

Plus, after waiting seven years for a Blackhawks playoff game, we could all afford to wait a few more minutes couldn't we?

We wouldn't have to.  After the Flames won the faceoff to start overtime, Dave Bolland intercepted a pass and headed into the Flames defensive zone where he found a trailing Havlat who unleashed another wristshot just over the outstretched leg of Kiprusoff and into the back of the net to give the Hawks a 3-2 overtime win.

It may have taken seven years to get here, but it only took twelve seconds to end it.

Now we only have to wait another two days before the Hawks and Flames meet up again at the United Center on Saturday night.  Here's hoping for a similar result.

Along with writing for NBCCHICAGO.com, Tom Fornelli can also be found contributing at FanHouse, SPORTSbyBROOKS, and his own Chicago sports blog Foul Balls

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