- Jesse Rogers, Chicago Cubs beat reporter
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CHICAGO -- Call it a franchise scare as the entire United Center saw a Duncan Keith blast deflect off Jonathan Toews’ head early in the first period of the Hawks 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Toews was woozy leaving the ice and immediately went to the dressing room as a sold-out crowd held its collective breathe.
“It hit me on the helmet,” Toews said after the game. “It could have been worse I guess.”
Toews was back on the ice shortly but not before getting two sets of stitches on the left side of his forehead. The puck had ricocheted off Jackets’ forward Ryan Johansen, hitting Toews squarely in the head causing the two gashes. Then it nearly went in the net. His helmet may have save his life but caused the two gashes.
"It hits me in the face and still doesn’t go in,” Toews joked. “I’m not getting any bounces. That’s alright, no big deal.”
It was a big deal to anyone watching, including Joel Quenneville. The play happened so fast Quenneville wasn’t sure what to make of it.
“I wasn’t aware exactly how that played but what a crazy shot that ended up being,” he said. “Hit their guy, hit Toews in the head, hit the post, and it was a pounder. He looks like Old-Time Hockey right now, would have been a beauty [goal], soccer [style.]”
Toews was already sporting a set of stitches on his lower lip suffered in a recent game against Edmonton, now has two more sets—all to the left side of his face.
“I’m going to keep these in longer,” Toews said pointing to his lip. “They’re supposed to come out. I’m liking the look right now.”
For the first time since Feb. 14, 2010, against these same Columbus Blue Jackets, the Hawks were called for two instigator penalties in the same game. Neither made much sense to those involved.
After Steve Montador was called for one against Jared Boll in the first period, Jamal Mayers was whistled for his attack on Boll in the second.
Boll had run Niklas Hjalmarsson and was chirping with Brent Seabrook before Mayers jumped in.
“I guess I don’t really understand the rule,” Mayers said. “It used to be if you go after a guy that doesn’t necessarily fight or you punch a guy that isn’t ready and start a fight [you get called]. But we both were willing and engaged. I did go out of my way but I guess they’ve changed the rule and I’ll have to be a little smarter.”
In the first period Boll ran Andrew Brunette so Montador took offense. He went after Boll and when the dust settled Montador had to serve two minutes for instigating, five minutes for fighting and another 10 minutes as part of an automatic misconduct penalty. And then the referees added two more minutes because Montador was wearing a visor while being called for an instigator penalty.
It could have been costly but the Hawks killed off all six minutes that accompanied the instigation infractions.
“It made a huge difference tonight,” Jonathan Toews said. “It could have been much different tonight if we weren’t on top of our [penalty killing] game.”
• Viktor Stalberg produced the first Hawks hat trick at home since March 7, 2010 when former Hawk Andrew Ladd did it against Detroit. Stalberg’s seven goals against the Jackets are the most for a player in the NHL against one team.
• Nick Leddy was on the ice for both goals against as his struggles continue. Leddy is minus-9 over his last four games as the Hawks continue to allow goalmouth scores.
“Physicality in that area or clear the puck,” Quenneville said. “One of the two. We have to be better.”
• Quenneville again praised youngsters Jimmy Hayes, Andrew Shaw and Ben Smith. Smith scored his second goal of the season, in his first game back from Rockford, on a back-hand shot in the third period. Hayes and Shaw combined for eight hits, four apiece.
• Due to the two instigator penalties and the 10 minute misconducts that accompany them, the Hawks were assesses a season-high 42 penalty minutes in the game.
Jonathan Toews returned to the ice after taking a puck off the helmet.