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Hawks make it five in a row with OT win

by Brian Hedger
CHICAGO -- It was another heated installment in the feud between the rival Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks, who needed overtime on Wednesday night to put an end to an event-filled game.

Andrew Shaw's goal at 2:42 of OT, his fourth goal in the last three games, gave the Blackhawks an emotional 2-1 victory on Wednesday night at the United Center, which gave Chicago its fifth straight win and ninth in the past 11 games.

"It was a big test for us, coming up to the playoffs," said Shaw, whose team tied fifth-place Nashville with 92 points apiece, although the Predators have two games in hand. "It was a huge win for us. It was a character win, a team win. It took everyone in the dressing room to win that game. It's unbelievable. I love it. This is the hockey I always wanted to play. I'm just excited for the playoffs."

The Canucks (43-21-9) earned a point, but have now dropped two in a row and four of their last five despite a brilliant effort from goalie Roberto Luongo (35 saves). It took a deflection off Shaw's leg -- his third goal in as many game scored that way -- after a shot by Johnny Oduya from the slot to finally get a second one past the Canucks' goalie in OT.

As he's shown in his rookie season, however, that's just one of the things the 5-10, 180-pound Shaw does best.

"I just think that he’s got that ingredient that you like as a competitor," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "He finds ways to get the job done. He welcomes any challenge. Whether you use a term fearless or gutsy, you could add some more terms to that, but you appreciate the way he competes for either himself, or his teammates, or his team."

Shaw is also an agitator on Chicago's main checking line and again found himself in the middle of the extracurriculars that took place in the first 40 minutes. Not long after Shaw was rammed headfirst into the boards by Alexander Edler late in the first, Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith knocked Canucks star Daniel Sedin out of the game with an elbow to the head.

Turns out that hit by Keith was more likely linked to an earlier hit by Sedin on Keith, in which the Canucks forward clipped the Hawks defenseman's head with his shoulder. Either way, those incidents touched off a series of post-whistle scrums in the second that led to all kind of confrontations.

"When hits like that happen ... that's not a part of hockey you like to see and it shows, I think, a little lack of respect," Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said of Keith's hit. "But again, we are the ... I don't know what words they were saying were, but weak team ... a team that likes to dive. So, we'll see what happens."

Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa was no less annoyed with the Hawks and especially Keith after the game. Bieksa didn't see the hit, but heard about it from teammates and said he wasn't surprised it was Keith who did it.

"I wouldn't call him a Lady Byng candidate, that's for sure," Bieksa said. "You've got to watch him a little closer."

Keith denied that he was trying to hurt Sedin and expressed remorse for the injury. Yet, nothing that happened in this game was really out of the ordinary for a heated rivalry that's had a number of dustups in the past.

It even followed a familiar pattern after Jannik Hansen gave Vancouver a 1-0 lead just 27 seconds into the game with a hard wrister. The Canucks couldn't get a second one and then lost their composure in the second while going after Keith.

Meanwhile, Chicago took control of the action and Patrick Kane tied it 1-1 just 3:12 into the period off a rebound of Marian Hossa's shot. Vancouver eventually regrouped to put some serious heat on Chicago goalie Corey Crawford in the third, but he made a number of great stops down the stretch and in OT among his 23 saves to pick up his fifth straight win.

Still, the rivalry was the main story. These teams have faced each other in three straight postseasons and the baggage from those series always seems to carry over no matter when, where or what new faces are involved.

This game was no exception. There were big hits, retaliatory actions, post-whistle shoves, face-washes, jersey tugs and a couple of all-out, fisticuff-laced scrums in that dotted the second period.

Keith's hit on Sedin, though, pretty much lit the fuse.

Sedin stayed out for the ensuing power play with Keith in the box for an elbowing minor, but soon left the game and didn't return. Meanwhile, the Hawks -- playing their 15th straight game without captain Jonathan Toews and also missing veteran fourth-line center Jamal Mayers -- ratcheted up the offense.

The Hawks nearly tied the game several times before the first intermission, but Luongo was up to the task on each chance. He was the lone reason the Canucks stayed in front to start the second, when Vancouver started its retribution seeking for the injured Sedin.

"I thought our battle and compete level was real strong," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. "We were obviously a little bit ticked off with the hit in the second and might have lost a little bit of our composure. We were able to kill all the five penalties that we took, so that says a lot about our commitment. I thought we played well in the third and really had some quality chances, but weren't able to finish."

Alexandre Burrows picked up a roughing minor in the second by removing his glove and punching Kane after the whistle about three minutes after Kane's goal and things intensified from there -- coming to a head at the 9:09 mark, when Vancouver's Zack Kassian charged hard into the Chicago crease and got into a post-whistle scrum with Brent Seabrook.

Players from both teams broke into separate scuffles and shoving matches, with Burrows going after Keith and pinning him to the ice under a pile of players near the right circle.

After all the penalties were sorted out, Burrows and Keith were each sent to their locker rooms with 4:00 roughing infractions and 10-minute misconducts. Kassian was given a 10-minute misconduct, too, but also picked up an extra roughing minor that put Chicago on the power play.

Luongo, however, was in top form. Vancouver's penalty kill was also top notch in the second and needed to be in order to kill off four man-advantage situations for the Hawks.

It was Crawford's turn to shine in the third, keeping the game tied with a number of difficult saves off tips, deflections and blasts. Crawford faced 14 shots over the first 15 minutes of the final period and stopped them all.

Luongo then made big stops against Hossa and Patrick Sharp with less than two minutes left in regulation to keep the tie in order. Not much changed in overtime, as both sides exchanged good scoring chances, until Shaw finally ended it when Oduya's shot deflected off his leg into the net to cap a wild night.

Chicago is now 9-1-1 since acquiring Oduya from Winnipeg at the trade deadline, 10-4-1 in the stretch without Toews and riding the willingness of Shaw to live in the dirty areas of the ice to create offense.

"I get banged around a lot in every game," Shaw said. "I'm a smaller guy, who is kind of in everyone's ear. People might have hatred for me out there on the other team, but I just try to stick to my game. I get hit, get back up, keep going and don't let it bother me."
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