It's been a tough week for the Chicago Blackhawks. On Sunday, Brian Campbell broke his collar bone and a rib after a hit by Alexander Ovechkin that earned him a two-game suspension. Tonight, they lost Brent Seabrook to an "upper body injury" (more on that later). The final indignity was losing their third game in a row, this time a 4-2 loss to the Ducks.
For the Ducks, they needed those two points desperately to keep their waning playoff hopes alive.
"We can't let up for one minute," said Todd Marchant. "We know our situation and where we're at. We have to keep pushing. You never know what game or point could cost you in the end."
Bobby Ryan got his 30th goal of the year at 4:08. Ryan Carter, filling in on the top line for Ryan Getzlaf (day to day with a reinjured ankle), and Corey Perry did all the work. Birthday boy, Bobby, finished things off behind Blackhawks back-up Corey Crawford. That makes his second consecutive 30 goal season.
"It's a nice milestone," said Ryan. "Nicer for two points for us."
Despite what the shots on goal read, it seemed like Chicago was in the Ducks end most of the first period (and the second and the third). It was no surprise when Seabrook took advantage of a defensive breakdown and tied up the game at 11:16.
Seabrook did not contribute any more to the game after being the victim of an awful hit from James Wisniewski at 2:22 of the second period. Seabrook had hit Perry hard along the boards and Wisniewski was clearly sticking up for his teammate by taking it out on his former Chicago teammate. Wisniewski came in at Seabrook, who was at the end boards, from nearly the blue line, colliding heads and following through with his arms to finish the job.
Seabrook could have been renamed "See Stars." Looking just like a staged bar fight in an old Western movie where the guy gets clocked and crumples to the ground. Except this was no movie and it wasn't choreographed. That brief moment of unconsciousness was real. Seabrook went to the bench and then to the locker room, not to return.
Duncan Keith immediately went to task on Wisniewski, who promptly pummeled Keith to the ice. The amazing thing was that the referees only called charging and fighting on Wisniewski. No major penalty. No game misconduct. Wisniewski, who was suspended two games in November for a hit on Shane Doan will have to wait and see if there is further judgement on this one.
"He's one of my real good buddies," commented a seemingly remorseful Wisniewski. "I saw the replay and I was shocked to see the result of that. That's something I don't want to ever see happen."
The best revenge is scoring, but while on a power play, Crawford made a gamble and lost. He came way out of the net to play the puck, but Kyle Chipchura stole the puck from him. Marchant made certain that he put the puck in the open net at 6:27, despite several Blackhawks players attempting to protect the crease. Third shorthanded goal of the year for Marchant and #28 of his career.
"I can't take any credit for it," said Marchant. "Chipper made a great play."
The Blackhawks did tie things up early in the third period. Applying even more pressure to Anaheim, Marian Hossa deflected in Keith's shot with a stick that was parallel to the crossbar at 5:12. It was reviewed, but Hossa's stick was clearly not above the crossbar and the goal was good. Game tied 2-2.
Chicago kept shooting. Jonas Hiller kept making saves. 38 for the game. The pipes saved a couple, too.
The Ducks took advantage of their opportunities, though. Lubomir Visnovsky popped up the puck high and Perry retrieved it, despite having Brent Sopel to contend with. Sopel went down like he was shot, hoping to get a call on Perry, but Perry got the puck to Saku Koivu who put it in the net at 14:24. It proved to be the eventual game winner. The Blackhawks liked neither the goal nor the perceived non-call preceding it.
"Bobby and Perry were doing a great job down low," said Koivu. "The puck just popped between the circles and I was able to get a good shot, a one-timer."
The final indignity was an empty net goal from Ryan at 19:07 for the insurance marker. Wisniewski drew an assist and another fight, this time with former Duck, Nick Boynton, who was acquired by Chicago at the trade deadline and was called up after Campbell's injury.
"Guys got dirty and found ways to get it done," commented Ryan.
Coach Randy Carlyle was pleased with his team's effort.
"It was an emotional game and both teams were desperate for points," said Carlyle. "We knew with them coming in here an dhaving lost their last two hockey games that they were going to be a little bit of a grouchy hockey club. We have to be grouchy in the situation we're in. It was two teams competing and when the physical element of the game gets up there, it's up to people to respond."
Their next opportunity for grouchy, emotional, physical play will be on Friday night against the New York Islanders. Perhaps then Teemu Selanne can notch goal #600. He registered five shots on goal. None of them went in, much to the frustration of the fans. For a player who has averaged a goal every other game, you just know it's going to come eventually.
In other notes: Kyle Calder, who had been brought from the Toronto Marlies on an emergency recall, was sent back today as Teemu Selanne was deemed ready to go in the game.