Hawks overcome defensive lapses to top Thrashers

Last night, the Blackhawks blew a 3-1 1st period lead to the Atlanta Thrashers in all too familiar fashion.  It followed the formula of many recent Hawks games.  Dominate early but get scored on first...usually on a questionable goal.  Then tie it or take the lead.  Then lose the lead and scramble at the end to tie it or win in the shootout. 

It was the same...exact....story last night.  After Globetrotting around the Thrashers for much of the 1st period, the Hawks went into the 1st intermission with a 3-1 lead.  Then in the 2nd, the Thrashers took over.  Three goals in 14 minutes gave the Thrashers a 4-3 lead.  Two of those three goals Antti Niemi should have stopped.  The other was a defensive miscommunication that left a wide open net. 

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Kim Johnsson scored his first goal as a Blackhawk

Again, tired defense and inconsistent goaltending cost the Hawks. 

Dave Bolland tied it in the 3rd with a nice tuck move, while Niemi snapped out of it and played very well in the 3rd.  The Hawks controlled the rest of the 3rd and won in the shootout.

These goaltending and defensive trends are disturbing for sure, but I think they will get better.  Yes, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook aren't getting any time off for the Olympics, but they won't be playing 25-30 minutes a game like they did last night.  Their load will be much less in Vancouver.  Couple that with the fact the new Hawk Kim Johnsson, who had 20 minutes of ice time, was one of the best Hawks on the ice last night.  He scored a goal on a play he created, and was solid all around.

As for the goaltending, this may be the tandem Hawks fans will see the rest of the season.  League sources say that Team Bowman has sniffed around the league for a goaltender, but at this point, doesn't feel that there is enough of an upgrade available. Things have been known to change however.  You never know what the March 3rd trade deadline will bring.  Rest assured, Coach Quenneville will play the best goalie in the playoffs.  Niemi is getting a full dress rehearsal, and if he's the better goalie, he will play. 

On the injury front, Quenneville said that Marian Hossa, who took a big hit from Colby Armstrong and left last night's game, is day to day and is doubtful for tonight's game.  Jake Dowell has been recalled from Rockford, while John Madden has been placed on IR. 

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