Blackhawks

Blackhawks

Tuesday, May 18, 2010
6:45 PMBy Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.comThe single most enduring moment of Sunday's 2-1 victory for the Chicago Blackhawks wasn't any one of the many stupendous saves authored by goalie Antti Niemi, but a curious call 59 minutes in that gave way to a "Tripgate" of sorts.The San Jose Sharks' final power play of five on the afternoon came from a tripping whistle blown on Kris Versteeg.The only problem was that Versteeg really wasn't anywhere near the stumbled Shark, who had been felled by a superior penalty killer, Dave Bolland.The case of mistaken identity drew instant attention postgame, from Chicago coach Joel Quenneville's candy-store-kid smile and, "I'm not complaining" to counterpart Todd McLellan's assertion that to have raised a ruckus over the mistake would have diverted attention from his team's final scoring charge and "if (the referees) erred, they erred." Versteeg himself was perhaps the most entertaining of all, a consummate showman smart enough to know when to play it on the down low. The third-year forward claimed he "didn't know" what happened on the play and even went so far to have conjured "a pileup" that caused all the confusion for the refs. Natch, and with just a glimmer of a grin, Versteeg asserted that "the refs did a good job" and admitted that, having fallen on his sword for Bolly or not, "I was praying to God they didn't score--my heart was pounding through my chest." Overwhelming chances are that boxing a PK ace like Bolland for the game's last minute instead of Steeger would have done nothing to change the outcome of the contest. And for their own separate reasons, both coaches knew better than to grandstand over the misbegotten whistle.When Q was questioned about the presumed break of the call, he playfully rejoined, "if we're going to talk about that, let's talk about a 5-0 difference in power plays (in San Jose's favor)."Fair enough, coach. Let's drop the puck for Game 2 and see where this tilt's "pileups" fall.