CHICAGO – Marian Hossa had passed the puck and turned just slightly when Phoenix’s Raffi Torres delivered a crushing blow with his shoulder that left the Chicago Blackhawks star crumpled on the ice.
Even as medical personnel rushed to his side, it was obvious that Hossa was not going to get up from the first-period blow. And minutes later, the sight of him being hauled off the ice on a stretcher brought a hush to the United Center crowd that had been buzzing.
Hossa had tests at a hospital and was released and is expected to recover, but the Blackhawks are really short-handed now, trailing the Coyotes 2-1 in the series with Game 4 Thursday night.
Phoenix got a short-angled goal from Mikkel Boedker and prevailed 3-2 Tuesday night in the teams’ third straight overtime game.
Losing Hossa hurt nearly as much losing the game. Especially since it involved Torres, who has long been a villain in Chicago. He knocked Brent Seabrook to the ice a year ago while playing for Vancouver.
“Of course we’re angry. It’s a natural reaction for anybody,” Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said.
“Everyone loves Hoss, respects him and loves him as a teammate. … We wanted to win that game for him tonight, but came up short. We’ve got to focus on getting the next one for him.”
That will be tough to do in a tight series and without forward Andrew Shaw, who was suspended three games Tuesday for his hit on Phoenix goalie Mike Smith in Game 2.
In overtime, there is no margin for error. And when you play three straight, it’s also a battle against fatigue.
“It rolled through his legs,” Boedker said of his game-winning shot from the left side that eluded Corey Crawford. “I was trying to hit his pad. I thought of going to the net, and I was actually shooting for a rebound, but it went through his legs and that was good for me and good for everybody in here.
“Now we’re up 2-1 and that’s the position that we like very much.”
That Torres did not draw a penalty brought a pointed response from Chicago coach Joel Quenneville.
“It was a brutal hit,” Quenneville said. “I saw exactly what happened. It was right in front of me. How four guys missed it was hard. The refereeing tonight was a disgrace.”
Asked if he was concerned about coming off his skates to make the hit, Torres said: “I’m not going to answer that.
“I felt like it was a hockey play. I was just trying to finish my hit out there,” he said.
The Blackhawks released a statement on Hossa right as the game ended.
“After initial evaluation on the ice, (Hossa) was taken by ambulance to the hospital for further testing, which yielded encouraging results,” team physician Dr. Michael Terry said. “He has been released from the hospital and we are monitoring him closely at home.”
The Blackhawks already were without Shaw, who was suspended on Tuesday for a hit that knocked Smith to the ice—but didn’t force him out of Saturday night’s Game 2. Smith was booed loudly Tuesday night, especially when he went behind the net to get a puck early in the game.
Andrew Brunette and Michael Frolik had goals for the Blackhawks, and Rostislav Klesla and Ray Whitney scored for the Coyotes in regulation. Chicago led 1-0 midway through the third period.
Smith shook off a big hit he absorbed in Game 2 and made 35 saves—six in overtime—to earn the win. He was on the ice for five minutes Saturday night and was able to stay in that game. Watching Hossa being carried off was tough for him, too.
“It’s scary. Your heart goes out to him and his family. It’s past hockey,” Smith said.
As far as the numerous hits to the head that seem to be happening around the league, Smith said it’s time to put an end to it.
“Obviously, the head hits have to be cut down. It’s people’s livelihood,” he said. “We all love to play and it’s a fun sport, but people have families and kids at home, and wives, and when you’re getting into head and concussion issues around the whole league, we need to put a stop to it.”
Crawford had played well until the final shot eluded him. He finished with 31 saves.
“It’s a terrible goal. We dominated overtime. I thought I was feeling good the whole game long. I feel bad I gave them that one after the guys battled in overtime like that. It’s definitely on me,” Crawford said.
“We’ll just worry about the next one now.”
But they’ll do so without two of their top forwards.
Notes: Coyotes C Martin Hanzal and LW Lauri Korpikoski were scratched after being injured in Game 2. Hanzal skated Tuesday morning and in warm-ups.