Alain Vigneault complains that the Blackhawks ran up the score during last night’s 7-1 beating

We live in a society in which the painful parts of life are being child-proofed more and more every day.

Dodgeball is being outlawed. Youth football game scoreboards are turned blank if a team outscores another team by a particularly lopsided margin. “Mercy rules” abound on just about every level before you hit the professional ranks, although the occasional college football team will score 83 points.

While I value sportsmanship in its many wonderful forms – from enforcers displaying the occasional moment of compassion to the playoff tradition of teams shaking hands after bludgeoning each other for four to seven games – there comes a point in which we all need to accept the fact that competition can bring out the ugly side of people. Sometimes, that means that you have to accept the fact that your team will get their collective backsides handed to them.

The Chicago Blackhawks haven’t looked like their Stanley Cup winning selves much lately, but they still seem to own the Vancouver Canucks. If you ask Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, they weren’t too shy about displaying their dominance during Saturday night’s drubbing.

Vigneault accused Quenneville of running up the score when the Hawks had a five-on-three power play while holding a 6-0 lead early in the third period. After penalties to the Canucks’ Alexander Edler and Dan Hamhuis, Quenneville sent out several of his top players with the two-man advantage during which they did not score.

“Obviously, we’re going to have to find a way to play better at home against the team,” Vigneault said after the game. “We basically embarrassed ourselves tonight in front of our fans and (the Hawks) did everything they could to rub it in our face. (It was) 6-0 and they throw their No. 1 power-play unit when it’s five-on-three. They have every right to do that. They did it. They were pushing it, and they did.”

When asked during his postgame news conference about Vigneault’s comments, Quenneville wasn’t entirely sure how to respond because he hadn’t heard them.

“It’s tough to comment because I don’t know what he’s talking about,” Quenneville said. “I was rolling four lines. I don’t know if that was an insult or not an insult but I was worrying about playing everybody.”

It doesn’t seem like Vigneault is going into full scale whine mode – and you have to assume that he probably wouldn’t bring such a thing up if he slept on it – but it still comes off a bit like belly aching.

The only error Quenneville made is putting those top players on the ice in a time in which the Canucks might be especially irritable; that’s a prime situation for a less scrupled player to take his aggressions out on an opponent. These teams have hated each other since their hair-pulling days, so this just adds another altercation to their mounting tensions.

Of course, right now this has been more of a “hammer and nail” rivalry than anything else, so if the Canucks want to get revenge they need to do so in the area that matters the most: the scoreboard.

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist
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DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.