It doesn’t take much to turn a Blackhawks game against the Vancouver Canucks into nearly full-blown anarchy with penalty minutes filling up the scoresheet and extracurricular engagements standing out over actual goals scored.
The hate runs deep in arguably the best rivalry going in the NHL.
When the teams were done with all the shoves and punches Wednesday, it was the Hawks who were triumphant, defeating their rivals 2-1 in overtime at the United Center.
The Hawks won their fifth game in a row and tied the idle Nashville Predators with 92 points.
Andrew Shaw’s deflected goal with 2:18 left in overtime was the difference as Roberto Luongo and Corey Crawford were solid in goal and the penalty kills for both teams were effective.
But it was defenseman Duncan Keith who landed the defining blow in the next chapter of the rivalry, elbowing Canucks star winger Daniel Sedin in the head at 13:36 in the first period.
It came after Sedin hit Keith in the head with his shoulder earlier. Sedin played on the ensuing power play after Keith’s elbow but didn’t return after that.
Similar elbows have resulted in suspensions in the NHL, and Keith is expected to hear from disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. Keith said he didn’t think Sedin had hit him earlier.
“I’m not trying to hurt anybody; I hope he’s OK,” Keith said. “The puck was up in the air from what I remember, and I’m trying to close my gap and have a good gap on him. Right at the last second, he moves forward. I don’t know where the puck is. It’s fast.”
The Canucks, of course, were fuming.
They went after Keith, then criticized him after the game. Henrik Sedin also said Keith insinuated that he would get Daniel back.
“It’s too bad it comes from a guy that’s supposed to be a tough player who plays hard,” Henrik Sedin said. “It shouldn’t be a part of the game, especially when you hear comments, too, from him before it happened from guys and then they do it. … It’s too bad. I had a lot of respect for him.”
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault thought Keith’s elbow should’ve been a major penalty instead of a two-minute minor, but he also said his team lost its composure after that. A scrum at 9:09 in the second period resulted in Canucks pest Alex Burrows and Keith receiving 10-minute misconducts and four minutes for roughing. Canucks forward Zack Kassian also got a 10-minute misconduct and two for roughing.
“I wouldn’t call [Keith] a Lady Byng candidate; that’s for sure,” defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. “If you could hear him out there.”
Jannik Hansen scored 27 seconds into the game, and Patrick Kane tied it 3:12 into the second period on a nifty feed from Marian Hossa. Shaw scored the game-winner when Johnny Oduya’s shot went off his shin.
Luongo had a stellar outing, stopping 35 of 37 shots. Crawford wasn’t tested much in the first 40 minutes, but he made 14 saves in the third period for the Hawks, who lost Marcus Kruger to an upper-body injury in the first.
As far as the physical intensity, it’s expected. But the results might linger for both teams with Kruger and Sedin ailing and Keith potentially facing a suspension.
“We match up in a lot of games against these guys where it’s intense and fun games to be a part of,” Keith said.