Blackhawks win 5-2 to make series with the Canucks 2-1 on the road; Byfuglien scores hat trick
Tonight's game wasn't pretty - not by a long shot. It was chippy, it was pushy, it was high-pressured, there was trash-talking and fan-taunting, several questionable ref calls (and non-calls), and late in the game there was a multi-player fisticuffs around the Blackhawks box that sent Dave Bolland of the Blackhawks and Alexandre Burrow of the Canucks to their respective locker rooms early.
Oh, yeah - and the Blackhawks packed away game three, 5-2, on the road, with Dustin Byfuglien scoring a hat trick.
DUSTIN BYFUGLIEN scoring a hat trick? Yes, you're reading that right.
The Blackhawks scored first (Versteeg) - and second (Byfuglien) - even though the Canucks pounded Blackhawks goaltender Antti Niemi with 16 SOGs in the first period. And although it was Vancouver's offense that dominated the first 20, the Hawks still came out ahead.
The Canucks resurged in the second, managing to get two goals (Hansen, Burrows) past Niemi while the Blackhawks scored again (Byfuglien), to make the score 3-2.
Niemi and the Chicago defense slammed the door on the Chicago net after that, and Chicago went to score on twice more (Hossa, Byfuglien). There is definitely an element of controversy to the last goal; the refs reviewed it to decide if Chicago had crashed Roberto Luongo, the Canucks goalie, and then initially awarded the goal to Patrick Kane. Upon later review, the goal still stood, and was given to Byfuglien to give him his first career post-season hat trick, and the Blackhawks first post-season hat trick on the road since 1988..
A look at the score sheet gives an idea of how much scrappier this game was between the Hawks and Canucks. Penalties for the Hawks included a "too many men" call (how many are we up to now? 378?), tripping, interference, roughing x2, and finally, a 10-minute misconduct for Bolland with just over 3 minutes left on the clock.
But if the Hawks racked up their share of time in the sin bin (with the Green Men absent for the night), the Canucks practically had a parade during the first and third periods, taking penalty time for hooking, tripping, roughing, too many men (you'd think they'd learned, after the Hawks had taken that), unsportsmanlike conduct, holding, roughing, two 10-minute misconducts (Burrows and O'Brien), and then another roughing penalty.
Antti Niemi got the win, giving up only 2 shots in 33 shots; Roberto Luongo gave up 5 of 35. Three stars of the game: Dustin Byfuglien, Antti Niemi and Marian Hossa.
The win put the Hawks up 2-1 in this series; and the next game will be Friday night in Vancouver. You can bet that the Canucks will come out anxious for redemption.
As an after-note, I'd like to address two things:
1. While people might have their opinions about how the UC fans choose to treat their own anthem (and it's with excitement and enthusiasm), there is one thing you cannot deny: the UC fans will respect the other team's anthem, and Jim Cornelison always does a beautiful job singing both anthems. He is not rushed and he sings both with enthusiam. (If you doubt this, go look it up on YouTube). I thought it was terrible how the first Canadian singer ran through the American National Anthem like it was a 78 RPM record. Obviously they treated their own anthem with more respect, but you know, how you treat the other team's anthem is also a reflection towards the players on your OWN team of that nationality. And the Canucks DO have Americans on their team, including their alternative Captain, Ryan Kesler.
2. The Canucks fans who threw trash on the ice after the loss? So very not cool. First, you're throwing crap on the ice. Secondly, it shows zero class. You're upset, you're angry, we get it, but really, who are you mad at? Your team, that didn't play up to the level they're capable? The refs, who didn't make all the calls you think they should of? (I didn't see any Canucks fans complaining as the Hawks ate up penalties and were walloped in game 1.) Obviously this criticism doesn't extend to the entire fan base, simply those select few who chose to be disrespectful, but it still wasn't a decent thing to do.
Both incidents lit up the social media networks like Twitter. And there's certainly plenty of people out there anxious to cheap-talk via the anonymous world of the internet.
Four more games to decide who's going to walk away the winner of this series.