DETROIT – If anything, the Detroit Red Wings have gotten the full attention of the Chicago Blackhawks.
And at the end of the Wings’ 3-1 win Monday night in Game 3 of their best-of-seven Western Conference tempers began to boil over.
The rough stuff began when Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith skated by and took a cheap shot at Damien Brunner to draw a minor for roughing with the Blackhawks trialing 3-1 with six minutes to play in the third period.
“It’s always a fine line not to get penalties and play on the edge,” Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. “We’ve had really good penalty killing so far in these playoffs, but we know they have a lot of skilled players who can make a difference in a game if we give them too many power plays. It’s a fine line there, but you’ve got to play tough. It’s obviously a different level in the playoffs. If you could play a little bit harder on their top guys, that would be good I think.”
With a minute to play, Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell was assessed a cross checking penalty on Daniel Cleary, while the Wings forward was defenseless on the ice.
“Just playing like that doesn’t give us the green light to take unnecessary or undisciplined penalties,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “There’s always a discipline that goes behind everything we talk about, whether it’s playing with a purpose … but the purpose of discipline is No. 1.”
The final penalty was on Chicago forward Andrew Shaw, a 10-minute misconduct with 13 seconds left in regulation.
“We need to be more on the edge, like we played last game,” Chicago forward Marian Hossa said. “We have great intensity and I felt like lots of energy. Also, you don’t want to go over the board and take bad penalties, because they’ve got really good players on the power play. You have to be smart about it.”
Things were actually quite chippy in the first period.
Just four minutes in, Andrew Shaw caught Brendan Smith with an elbow.
Later, Brent Seabrook knocked Daniel Cleary off balance sending him crashing into the net and then into the end boards. Keith then motioned like he was going to push the net over top of Cleary while he was on the ice.
Detroit’s only power play of the period came as a result of a scrum in the front of Howard between all the players on the at the time. Kyle Quincey and Bickell were both assessed two-minute unsportsmanlike penalties, while Shaw got the extra two for roughing.
“I think at the end, you could definitely see some of the frustration coming out,” Jonathan Ericsson said. “After whistles, they were maybe paying too much attention to us. They were doing things after whistles. That’s a good thing for us, if we can get them frustrated. We want to do that all day to them.”
Wings coach Mike Babcock isn’t ready to say that his squad has gotten under the Blackhawks’ skin.
“It’s playoff hockey,” Babcock said. “So it’s going to be battles out there and you don’t want to lose any of those battles. It’s going to be tough to play and I think we’re just going to have to keep doing the same things.”
Conversely, the Wings didn’t lose their temper in their 4-1 loss in Game 1.
“I think it’s a little bit of anger about what we are doing right now,” Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival said. “We (didn’t) want to get behind 2-1 against an opponent like this. I think everybody is kind of, not happy, with the way we’ve played and I think it’s a good thing. It can give us a boost of energy. Playing with a little bit of anger going forward, you know, it’s not a bad thing. I think it’s going to help us (going) into Game 4 and obviously we have to play better and step up our game.”