Hit was dirty, but Hawks deserved Game 3 loss
It wasn't a play that decided Sunday's game at the United Center, but Raffi Torres' shoulder to Brent Seabrook's head in the second period certainly demonstrated the mind-set the Vancouver Canucks have brought into this first-round playoff series with the Blackhawks.
The Canucks are targeting the Hawks' best players with intense physical play, and it has paved the way for them to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of seven series after Sunday's 3-2 win at the United Center.
Torres crossed the line when he laid out Seabrook behind the net with a head shot that sent the defenseman to the dressing moments later for a concussion test.
"One of the dirtiest hits I've even seen," Hawks winger Patrick Kane said.
Obviously referee Brad Watson and Greg Kimmerly didn't agree. They sent Torres to the penalty box for only two minutes for interference on a play that should result in a suspension.
Torres was making his series debut after serving a two-game suspension for a similar dirty hit on Edmonton's Jordan Eberle.
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville was livid with Watson and Kimmerly for letting Torres off easy.
"Brutal. Major, absolutely," Quenneville said. "They missed it. We could have scored 4 goals on that play. Is it a suspension? I don't have to worry about that, it's not my call. The guy didn't even get through his first game back off one."
Here's something funny: Canucks coach Alain Vigneault didn't even think Torres deserved a penalty.
The Hawks trailed 2-1 at the time and did get a power-play goal from Patrick Sharp during the Torres minor to tie it, but the Canucks got the game-winner from Mikael Samuelsson in the third.
Seabrook said he hadn't seen the hit and wouldn't comment on it, but Hawks captain Jonathan Toews had plenty to say.
"His reputation as of late speaks for itself," Toews said of Torres. "He's not going in there to make a play; he's trying to hurt one of our players, and to us that's pretty obvious. We said in the locker room there's a time for everything and we'll deal with it accordingly."
But first the Hawks must deal with the 0-3 hole they're in heading into Game 4 on Tuesday. Only three teams in NHL history have come back from such a deficit.
"We dug ourselves a hole, and we did it to ourselves," Toews said. "We have a lot of pride and it's been done before, but we just have to start with the next one."
The Hawks didn't deserve to win Game 3. The same things that hurt them during the regular season did them again. They had a strong start, then went into a lull following a failed 5-on-3 for 1:17 in the first period. Their third period was uninspiring.
The Hawks led 1-0 until a bad penalty for interference by John Scott at 9:56 of the second period.
Not only did the Canucks cash in and tie it just seven seconds later on a goal by Christian Ehrhoff, they went ahead 2-1 when Daniel Sedin scored 54 seconds after Ehrhoff.
"I thought we were playing exactly how we wanted to play until they scored their first goal," said Quenneville, who had Scott in the lineup for the injured Bryan Bickell because of his size.
Not scoring during the 5-on-3 in the first period came back to haunt the Hawks as it appeared to suck some of the life out of them.
"If you don't score on a 5-on-3, you generally don't win," Quenneville said.
•For more Hawks talk, check out Tim's Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com and follow his Blackhawks reports via Twitter @TimSassone.