Daily Herald
When push came to shove, Hawks refused to back down
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 5/11/2009 12:05 AM

When the Canucks dialed up the nastiness in the second period of Game 5 Saturday night at GM Place in Vancouver, the Blackhawks were more than happy to go along for the ride.

There was Kris Versteeg getting all up in Kevin Bieksa's face behind the net, Matt Walker getting involved in the same altercation and fighting Shane O'Brien, and Dustin Byfuglien in the middle of almost everything else.

"A guy like Versteeg mixing it up, that's probably not his role on the team obviously," Patrick Kane said. "And Matt Walker sticking up for guys. It just shows what kind of camaraderie we have in here and how much guys want to win."

The Canucks picked a bad time to rile the Hawks. The Canucks were leading 2-1 in the second period when Bieksa tried to stir the pot with Versteeg for some reason behind the net after a whistle.

While Bieksa and Versteeg earned offsetting roughing penalties, O'Brien got an extra minor for roughing with Walker. The Hawks responded with a power-play goal by Byfuglien at 18:22 to tie it and swing the momentum back in their favor.

"It's one of those things when you get sticked in the face or punched in the face, it seems to motivate you or pick you up," Kane said.

"If they're going to get gritty and physical, we can't sit back and let them beat on us," Byfuglien said. "We've got to come back and beat on them and show we're not going to let down and we're not scared of them."

More undisciplined penalties ultimately cost the Canucks the game in the third period.

It was 2-2 with just 6:44 to play in regulation when Bieksa (again) got his stick up high on Patrick Sharp along the boards, earning a penalty, when a clean check would have worked just fine.

Moments later the Hawks went ahead 3-2 when Dave Bolland scored off a pretty feed from Kane.

It was just like in the Calgary series, when the Hawks made the Flames pay for bad penalties with power-play goals.

"When you take some bad penalties it pays," Bolland said. "We're trying to stay away from that stuff. But we have a lot of grit on this team and I think you saw that."

Even after Bolland's goal put the Hawks ahead, the Canucks weren't through taking bad penalties. Ryan Kesler went off for holding in the attack zone at 16:07 just as the Canucks were starting to press for the tying goal.