VANCOUVER -- Some nights there shouldn't be a loser.
“We like the way we played,” coach Joel Quenneville said afterwards. “Tough ending but we did some good things to start our trip.”
The Hawks controlled most of the last two thirds of the game after being outplayed in the first period, and when Viktor Stalberg had a break-away chance in overtime, it looked like it might be the Hawks' night. But a last second slash from defenseman Dan Hamhuis altered the ending. The referees kept their whistles in their pockets on the play.
“Terrible call,” Stalberg said. “If they look at that they are going to see it’s a penalty. He slashed my hands so I can’t make the move I wanted so I think it’s pretty clear. It’s the definition of a penalty shot so it’s a terrible call.”
It was just one of many plays that could have decided the outcome of this playoff-style hockey game. There was the post-to-post save by Corey Crawford a few minutes earlier on the Canucks' captain, and in the second period, Vancouver’s Cory Schneider robbed Brendan Morrison of a near open-net chance. It went back and forth like that all night.
“Upsetting end but that was a great game for us coming out of the break,” Stalberg said. “We keep playing like that we’re going to win a lot of games.”
That was the theme echoed throughout the locker room. And why not, The Hawks made few mistakes while holding the Sedins in check until the final moments. Henrik found Daniel in front of the net for the overtime winner.
“Yeah, we got caught standing around late in the game,” Duncan Keith said. “We did a good job over the course of the game but all they need is one chance..We had a lot of chances and just wouldn’t go in the net. Back and forth game. Tough outcome.”
There is a reason these teams entertain as much as they compete. Their styles bring out the best in each other as does the bitter rivalry. Both sides skated like it was April or May and not the last day of January.
“We did a lot of good things,” Quenneville said. “Crawford made one of those spectacular saves that their guy also made in the game. You play like that you find a way to get points.”
It’s the first of nine on the road and if the Hawks can play that way they will get more than just a point in most of them. It doesn’t hurt to get the key call from the men in striped when you need it, but it wasn’t meant to be on Tuesday.
“I saw the replay,” Quenneville said. “It should have been a penalty shot but you still have to win the game.”
Someone had to.