Hit on Kruger set Hawks' loss in motion

December, 20, 2011
12/20/11
11:50
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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PITTSBURGH -- In basically one extended moment in Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Blackhawks lost a player to injury, were on the wrong end of a referee’s call, gave up a goal on the ensuing power play and eventually lost the game despite a furious third-period comeback.

The key sequence occurred at the 8:55 mark of the first period when Marcus Kruger was drilled into the boards in the offensive zone by Deryk Engelland. The hit came high, eventually ending Kruger’s night.

[+] EnlargeJohn Scott
AP Photo/Gene J. PuskarJohn Scott stepped in for retribution on Deryk Engelland but was called for an instigator penalty.
John Scott stepped in for retribution but was called for an instigator penalty while Engelland got off scot-free. Chris Kunitz scored on the power play and the Penguins took control.

“It was a tough turn of events at the end of the night,” Joel Quenneville said. “Scored the first goal on the play. They got a lot of momentum there. I thought we had a decent start until we took penalties. You could look at that as the critical point of the game. We’re shorthanded, they score. It was a big turn.”

It doesn’t excuse the Hawks' play for the first 40 minutes, but it did set a tone. Engelland could have been called for a penalty -- charging or targeting the head -- or Scott could have gotten away with protecting a teammate and not have been called for instigating. But that’s not how the referees saw it.

“He knew there was going to be a fight,” Scott said. “We dropped the gloves at the same time so he knew something was happening … I’m always going to stand up for my teammates. I’m going to do that every time, no matter who it is.”

The Penguins scored but no one in the Hawks dressing room was blaming Scott for taking a bad penalty. This was one that had to be addressed. The officials didn’t address it so the Hawks best fighter did.

“It was good to see that happen,” Duncan Keith said. “John stepped in there right away and fought him and obviously beat him up.”

Engelland was bloodied but the Penguins got the last laugh gaining momentum off the hit and subsequent power-play goal. The Hawks, meanwhile, had to play catch-up and deal with the loss of Kruger.

“Kruger is doing OK now,” Quenneville said. “We’ll see [Wednesday]. We’ll have a better idea on how he’s doing. Tough hit, high hit, in tough area. He was in a tough spot.”

A big hit, a bad call and a goal. It helped seal the Hawks fate for the night and end their winning streak at five.

Jesse Rogers | email

Chicago Cubs beat reporter
Jesse joined ESPN Chicago in September 2009 and covers the Chicago Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.

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