After giving each other some good-natured guff about scoring OT goals in playoff games, Bryan Bickell finally had to admit that, yeah, Patrick Kane's OT goal a few years back in Philadelphia might have been just a titch bigger than Bick's game-winner Tuesday night in the series opener against Minnesota.
But Bickell's goal was still huge.
"The first game is the biggest game of the series -- keep the home-ice advantage and also keep the momentum going," Bickell said of his game-winner, which began with a big hit by Andrew Shaw, was followed by a magical glass pass by Johnny Oduya and ended with a sweet feed by Viktor Stalberg. "It's big for me to get that goal and give the team a jump."
His coach agreed.
"Bick's big goal, those are the types of things that happen in the playoffs," Joel Quenneville said.
But the game-winner in OT wasn't the only big thing Bickell provided his teammates Tuesday night.
In the second period, the 6-foot-4, 233-pounder destroyed Wild forward Zenon Konopka with a hit that probably shook some seismograph machines to life.
Talk about big.
"It gets the team into it and it gets the fans into it," Bickell said of his hit. "He had his head down and it's my job to finish my checks ... and that's what I did.
"When any guy on the team has a big hit it fires you up. The atmosphere in the rink is there and the guys are giving you pats on the butt saying 'What a hit. Good job.'
"For me, it's part of my game and they want that out of me. I just need to bring it."
And Bickell's been bringing it all season. His 128 hits in the regular season were second on the team overall and tops among forwards.
"That's part of my game; when I play my best is when I'm hitting," he said. "It gets me more into the game. It's fun."
Also fun to see was that the Hawks outhitting their opponents (40-36), something that hasn't been too common this season. Not that that's a bad thing.
"This year our puck possession is a lot better than in previous years. When you have the puck, you can't really hit," Bickell said with a laugh. "It's a good thing. But when we have our chances, we need to finish our checks when it come time to do it."
That would be big.