Carcillo, playing his second consecutive game with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, made a beautiful steal and setup of a Toews goal to open the scoring in the first period. But in the second, he was kicked out for boarding and the Oilers scored twice on the ensuing five-minute power play. It changed the game.
“They get two goals off it,” coach Joel Quenneville said afterward. “It’s still 2-2 there. I wasn’t crazy about the third one we gave up.”
The Hawks steadily played worse, giving up that third goal with their third defense pair on the ice. Later, Corey Crawford allowed a soft Ben Eager score to be the eventual game-winner. But no one knows how the night ends if not for Carcillo’s hit.
“We don’t want to take anything away from his game,” Jamal Mayers said. “He plays a nasty game, he plays a hard game. Things like that are going happen. Quite frankly it’s a questionable call as well. He was finishing his check.”
It’s probably not the way the league will see it. As Carcillo and Gilbert were chasing down a dump-in, Carcillo went for contact instead of playing the puck. He extended his arms and sent the defenseman flying into the boards. Both players left the game with apparent knee injuries. Quenneville said he wasn’t going to “argue the call,” though he tried to soften the blow somewhat.
“It wasn’t even a hit,” he said. “It was a counter hit.”
Technically, Quenneville might be right. But the league will undoubtedly look at slow-motion replays as well as Carcillo’s history. With that, it probably will be determined he could have played the puck, instead of the man who was in a vulnerable position near the boards.
Oilers coach Tom Renney expects action from the league.
“I think the hit speaks for itself, and the penalty does as well,” Renney said. “I think at least to this point it’s been addressed and I’m hoping that it’ll be looked into even further.”
Though Carcillo will face supplemental discipline as well as the wrath of Hawks’ fans, the hit isn’t on par with others that have caused some bad head injuries. Gilbert hurt his knee and only after hitting the boards, not from the actual hit itself. There is a distinction. A direct head shot, for example, is more cut and dry with league officials. Plus, Gilbert wasn’t up against the boards where a direct hit from behind is an obvious violation and possibly an intent to injure. Gilbert will miss Tuesday’s game in Buffalo but the injury isn’t considered serious. That will help Carcillo’s cause.
Either way, when it comes to the controversial Hawks’ forward, defending his actions is a risky proposition. It’s unclear if he’ll be out due to injury or suspension but one thing is known: his illegal hit helped cost the Hawks a potential win.