This hasn't been a textbook playoffs for the Chicago Blackhawks, unless that textbook is "How to Succeed in Hockey By Trying Every Other Game."
But Chicago's 5-2 win over the Canucks on Wednesday at General Motors Place was pretty close to perfect. The Hawks never trailed, and even though they were outhit 40-21, the Vancouver Canucks' feistiness resulted in 10 penalties and two power-play goals.
If Vancouver was annoyed with Chicago's chippiness before, imagine how they feel after the old "Big Buff" returned to give them nightmares. Game 4 might just end with an all-out brawl, the way this grudge match is heading.
The unquestioned star of the game was Dustin Byfuglien, who was scoreless in the playoffs, wound up playing on the top line, and got himself a hat trick by taking up space in front of Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, just like he did in last season's playoff series win. Byfuglien got his third goal in the third period, though it was actually first credited to Patrick Kane.
"Sometimes it happens to a guy," Byfuglien said. "We've been working hard. I was trying to work hard myself. It finally paid off."