CHICAGO — By virtue of their size and skill, several Blackhawks have become moving targets for the Calgary Flames. The visitors from Western Canada delivered more than a few messages Thursday night to the Hawks during Game 1 of their best-of seven Stanley Cup playoff series.
Expect more of the same when the series resumes Saturday night at the United Center.
From former Hawk Rene Bourque leveling Patrick Kane with a crunching check during the second period, to Michael Cammalleri cracking Martin Havlat in the face with a forearm after a face-off in the first minute of the third, the Flames didn’t hesitate to shove the Hawks around when opportunities arose.
“It’s hockey and it’s the playoffs,” Kane said. “They’re just going after some of our top guys. It’s nothing new.”
Havlat got the ultimate revenge when he scored late in the third period to tie the game 2-2 and added the game-winner 12 seconds into overtime.
“(Cammalleri) is trying to do his job (and) help his team to win the game,” Havlat said. “I’m doing the same thing. It’s all about winning. If that would be the cost of winning the game I’ll take it any time.”
Said Hawks forward Adam Burish: “(Havlat) understands he’s going to be targeted out there — as he should be. He’s one of the best players in the league. Those guys will be targeted and he understands that. He shook it off and he responded pretty darn well after that.”
Calgary coach Mike Keenan was quick to point out the Hawks’ transgressions during the hard-fought game, saying Cammalleri was retaliating for a hit Andrew Ladd made on Olli Jokinen moments before.
“When Michael came out of the penalty box, Ladd punched Jokinen in the face right in front of (referee Wes) McAuley and there was no call,” Keenan said. “So deem it for what it is.”
After discussing his displeasure of the officials’ decision to allow the game-winning goal, which came while Ladd was bumping Kiprusoff after being checked by Jordan Leopold, Keenan spoke of another incident late in the game.
“The one that was not discussed and should have been was the deliberate possible attempt to injure on Kiprusoff when (Dustin) Byfuglien went behind the net and stuck his stick in the back of his knee and flipped him without a call,” the former Hawks coach said. “The official was 10 feet away.”
Only Cammalleri’s incident drew a penalty and Keenan, who has taken four teams to the Stanley Cup finals, plays the gamesmanship card as well as any coach in the league. He likely is trying to send a message to officials for Game 2.
Whatever the case, the hitting only figures to intensify as the series continues.
“It’s playoff hockey and it’s expected,” Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said of the rough play. “It’s only going to get tougher and the pace is only going to get faster.”