The Chicago Blackhawks were facing an uphill battle against the St. Louis Blues on Monday. Down 2-0 in the series, the Blackhawks were also without defenseman Brent Seabrook due to a three-game suspension.
But the Blackhawks, the defending Stanley Cup champions, prevailed by a final score of 2-0. The Blues still lead the best-of-seven series 2-1. Jonathan Toews scored the winner all the way back at the 4:10 mark of the opening period. His weak wrist shot from the slot somehow slid through the legs of goalie Ryan Miller, who was otherwise solid, making 22 saves.
This game didn’t have the same fireworks expected after what transpired in St. Louis two days ago, when Seabrook was tossed for his high, late hit on David Backes, who didn’t play because of injury. Further to that, emotions were expected to be even higher because of the alleged taunting toward Backes when he was struggling to his feet after the Seabrook hit.
Corey Crawford stopped all 34 shots he faced. It’s his third Stanley Cup playoff shutout of his career.
The Blackhawks had their chances to increase the lead, particularly in the second period when the Blues took four consecutive minor penalties, including this Maxim Lapierre hit-from-behind on Sheldon Brookbank. However, Chicago went 0-for-4 with the man advantage.
Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.
Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.
This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.
“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”
While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”
And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.
Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.
In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.
Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks
A statement from Raffi Torres:
“I accept the 41-game suspension handed down to me by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. I worked extremely hard over the last two years following reconstructive knee surgery to resume my NHL career, and this is the last thing I wanted to happen. I am disappointed I have put myself in a position to be suspended again. I sincerely apologize to Jakob for the hit that led to this suspension, and I’m extremely thankful that he wasn’t seriously injured as a result of the play. I also want to apologize to my Sharks teammates and the organization.”
A statement from San Jose GM Doug Wilson:
“The Sharks organization fully supports the NHL’s supplementary discipline decision regarding Raffi. While we do not believe there was any malicious intent, this type of hit is unacceptable and has no place in our game. There is a difference between playing hard and crossing the line and there is no doubt, in this instance, Raffi crossed that line. We’re very thankful that Jakob was not seriously injured as a result of this play.”
Silfverberg says he expects to play Saturday when the Ducks open their regular season Saturday in San Jose.