(Photo: Blackhawks Facebook)
Home Lights and Sounds
“For 82 games we grind, we battle, we will ourselves to win,” Captain Jonathan Toews narrates. “To compete for a championship. It’s one goal. To win the Stanley Cup.”
With that and a traditional chill-worthy national anthem, home looked mighty nice for the Hawks.
Speaking of the anthem, it’s become a matter of contention for those who haven’t experienced it or don’t understand it.
Chicago fans are not quiet while the stunning and powerful voice of opera singer Jim Cornelison performs.
“It’s great that the crowd gets involved the way they do,” Cornelison said. “They become part of the performance. They show what they’re feeling and what they’re thinking. To have the fans come up to you afterwards and high-five you — it’s a tremendous experience.
“I have to stay emotionally even but, I have to say, a couple moments in the anthem, particularly before I do the hand gesture where I know the crowd is just going to explode, I always get a rush.”
It isn’t a sign of disrespect–not to the singer, the flag, the song, or the military. In fact, it’s the opposite. The Blackhawks roll out a red carpet for Cornelison and members of the armed services (typically an active service member and at least one veteran) and fans cheer along as he sings The Star-Spangled Banner.
The tradition has a history dating before the United Center to the old Chicago Stadium, where some say fans united to empower Wayne Messmer’s rendition after the Edmonton Oilers drowned out the U.S. anthem on their home ice and went ahead 2-0. Chicago gave the Star-Spangled Banner and the Blackhawks new life in their own stadium and the team went on to beat Wayne Gretzky’s Oilers their next two home games.
Then, in 1991, when Chicago hosted the All-Star Game, the United States had just announced its attacks in the Persian Gulf War. The crowd held flags and signs supporting the troops and the showing of patriotism was broadcast overseas by Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.
The rest is history. But it continues to inspire players, fans, and troops alike in this barn.
“It gives me goose bumps,” forward Bryan Bickell said. “I can’t imagine a better way to start a hockey game.”
The Blackhawks were clearly inspired returning to Chicago 1-1 in the series.
Perhaps the most inspired was suburban Chicago native goaltender Scott Darling, who displayed his heroics in Game 1,and was back at it for Game 3. He stopped 35 of 37 shots in his first NHL playoff start.
— NHL (@NHL) April 20, 2015
Though the backup goalie has moved to the forefront for now, he’s received nothing but support from team starter Corey Crawford.
“He’s gone through a lot to get here and he’s been playing awesome. How can you not feel good for him?” Crawford told Comcast Sportsnet. “I have to encourage him, keep pushing him to be his best.”
In the meantime, Crawford, who hasn’t been happy with his own performance, must be prepared to step in. “The only thing I can do now is be ready in case I go back in,” he said. “Other than that, encourage the guys, stay positive and make sure the body language is good. Everything’s positive around here. There’s a nice feel around the room, nothing negative.”
Seemingly empowered by their return to the Windy City, the Blackhawks struck first.
Johnny Oduya left the defensive zone with about 5:12 left in the first. He passed through center ice to Marian Hossa, who sent the puck to Andrew Desjardins, who shot from the right circle, then rebounded his own shot five-hole from the faceoff dot past Pekka Rinne as he was pushed to the ice by Roman Josi.
In the second period, Jonathan Toews would give the Hawks another short lead after Duncan Keith sent the puck to him, and he passed to Hossa, who dropped it back to Toews for a stick-side shot from the right hash-marks less than a minute after puck-drop.
Twenty-two seconds later, Mattias Ekholm would answer for the Preds with a shot from the top of the left circle set up by passes from Ryan Ellis and Smith.
Brandon Saad would snatch a puck from the Preds in his defensive zone and skate to offense for a top shelf solo shot less than two minutes later to regain the lead for a 3-2 score.
With 7:19 left in the game, Brent Seabrook scored through from the slot after Toews passed across the middle from behind the net off a gritty dish from Andrew Shaw.
“We put a lot of attempts at the net and lots of shots and lots of quality scoring chances,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “[Darling] made some big saves, some we probably wished we had another look at. They played a fast game [today]. I think it caught us a couple of times, even when we had pucks on the walls. It seemed like their speed from behind caused some quick turnovers, and they were able to come back at us.”
Toews’ one goal and one assist performance gave the captain his 23rd multipoint playoff game; there are only three players with more since 2009–teammate Patrick Kane (26) and the Penguins‘ Evgeni Malkin (28) and Sidney Crosby (30).
Hossa also had a multi-point game. the 36-year-old has four points (all assists) and is a plus-two in the three playoff games so far.
Seabrook on Hossa: “Every season he gets older but he looks younger out there on the ice.” #Blackhawks
— Tracey Myers (@TramyersCSN) April 20, 2015
The Blackhawks’ lineup is expected to be the same as Sunday.
The two teams face-off again at 8:30 p.m. CT Tuesday at the United Center before the best-of-seven series heads back to Nashville. The game will be broadcast on CSN-CH, NBCSN, SN, and TVA3.
(Author’s note: Be sure to check out the bolded links for videos and other tidbits.)