Already having bagged 10 out of a possible 14 points on the road trip, the Hawks were looking to get greedy against the Carolina Hurricanes, but it was not to be. They were denied an extra two points and head home after a 7,600 mile trek and a 4-2 defeat in the trip finale.
Twice they came back from one goal deficits, but after tying the game at 2-2 in the third, the Hurricanes responded with two goals in the span of 26 seconds and Cam Ward did the rest in a 39-save performance.
It’s hard to say if the Hawks used up their energy in evening up the game, but a 15 shot third period would indicate they had something left in the tank. Ward was named the No. 1 star as the Hawks put the pressure on with a late power play, and their goaltender on the bench, but couldn’t get within one.
All in all, 5-3 on the long road trip is what the Hawks wanted, and it’s what they got. The highlight was most assuredly the 4-3 overtime win against a very rested San Jose Shark team. Though there were a couple of clunkers, in both Ottawa and Vancouver, the Hawks maintained their focus, never dropping two in a row. They responded after each poor outing with a good one, and now can cross off eight more games on the schedule with a comfortable lead in the division.
Even in the loss, the Hawks had the majority of chances. Marian Hossa scored his 15th of the season and probably could have had a few more. Both he and Patrick Kane had seven shots apiece to lead the Hawks. Kane was denied on Ward’s doorstep with seconds remaining in the game. The Hawks came in ranked third in the league winning 52.5 percent of their faceoffs, Carolina was ranked 16th. The Hawks won just 33 percent in one of their worst nights of the year in the circle.
We’ll never know if Game 8 was affected by the long travel from San Jose and the short turnaround, and it won’t matter. The Hawks played good enough hockey to call the trip a success. They shrugged off the crazy travel schedule, a mini off-ice controversy in Vancouver, and a showdown with the best in the West in San Jose.
They more than held serve over the last 16 days and now get a taste of home cooking before the Olympic break.