It might just be his last play of the series.
Marian Hossa, parked to the right of Pekka Rinne, tapped in the game-winner in overtime just after leaving the penalty box. It gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 5-4 overtime win and a 3-2 series lead over the Nashville Predators.
“The guys that killed it deserve lots of credit,” Hossa said after the thrilling win. “It wasn’t easy to sit in the box. I was that small in the box.”
Hossa put his fingers together to indicate how he felt having to watch his team nearly lose a critical Game 5 at home. But when Patrick Kane scored to tie it, it gave Hossa and the Hawks a new lease on life.
“I was jumping in the penalty box like a little kid when I see Patrick scoring with a couple seconds left,” Hossa said.
With just 1:03 remaining in regulation, Hossa was called for boarding as he pushed Predators defenseman Dan Hamhuis into the end boards. He was given a five-minute major penalty that carried over into overtime, once the Blackhawks tied the game.
If the league takes action for his hit on Hamhuis, it might be the last time Hossa touches the puck. Alexander Ovechkin was suspended for two games for a similar offense against the Blackhawks Brian Campbell.
“The guys told me in the dressing room,” Hossa explained. “‘We [will] kill this for you. You’re going to score.’”
“It was one of the longest I ever sat in the penalty box, that’s for sure,” Hossa said. “It wasn’t easy. When they killed it, I just tried to jump on the ice and when the puck came to me, I just tried to put it in,” he said.
He converted and the building erupted.
There are, at most, two more games left in this series. Predators coach Barry Trotz sounds hopeful Hossa will be punished.
“What’s the difference between that one and the Campbell hit?” Trotz said. “I don’t see the difference between the two. I trust the league’s judgment. It’s unfortunate Hossa comes out and scores the winner. Ironic how that works.”
Ironic, indeed. In fact, the play never happens that way if the referees give Hossa a game-misconduct penalty, as they did to Ovechkin, which would have sent him to the showers for the overtime.
“I tried to go for the puck and the guy turned his back to me and I couldn’t stop the motion. I didn’t want to hit him like that,” Hossa said. “I can’t worry about it. It’s up to them [the league] but I hope I’ll be playing [on Monday].
By rule, the league has to decide before Game 6 if it will take further action. For now, Hossa just wants to savor the win.
“It couldn’t be a better ending than this,” he said.