It was the highly anticipated match-up between the top two teams in the Western Conference, and it didn’t disappoint.
The San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks went goal-for-goal in the opening period Tuesday, going to their respective dressing rooms tied 3-3 after 20 minutes.
The scoring didn’t come at nearly the same pace the rest of the evening, however things got heated when Sharks center Andrew Desjardins caught Blackhawks veteran winger Jamal Mayers with a devastating – and controversial – open-ice hit and was ejected from the game for a match penalty, hit to the head.
Blackhawks’ defenseman Duncan Keith immediately jumped in to fight Desjardins. The Hawks, thanks to goals from Patrick Kane in the second and third periods, went on to a 5-3 victory.
“We’re trying to get that out of our game,” Mayers told the Chicago Tribune. “It’s unfortunate that happened but we got a power play out of it and most importantly, we won the game.”
Sharks head coach Todd McLellan took an opposite stance, believing Desjardins didn’t deserved a match penalty.
“It was a terrible call,” McLellan told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I don’t know if we were going to be able to come back or not, but at that point we were still in the game. We had every opportunity to win. We should have been on a four-minute power play.”
In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.
For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.
Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.
Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.
They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.
Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.