Suspension 'tough to swallow' for Carcillo

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Suspension 'tough to swallow' for Carcillo

Daniel Carcillo didnt think twice about that early hit on Friday night. But the NHL did, and now Carcillo is sidelined again.

Carcillo was suspended two games for his hit on Carolina defenseman Joni Pitkanen on Friday night. Carcillo will sit out Saturday nights game against Columbus as well as Mondays contest against Nashville, both Central Division tilts.

Pitkanen was a bit slow to get up after the hit, which sent him into the boards early in the first period. But he went on to play the rest of the game, logging a team-high 22 minutes, 21 seconds on ice.

No penalty was called on the play.

I just tried making a play on the puck. Maybe I was leaning on him, but I felt like he lost his edge and we both went into the boards. That was that, he said. He was trying to shield me from the puck. He was doing his job and I dont know what else I couldve done in that situation to make it less careless or less reckless, the way they describe it. So like I said, he lost his edge and he went down and here I am sitting out two games.

Coach Joel Quenneville also thought Pitkanen was off balance when Carcillo hit him. But Rob Blake of the NHLs department of player safety said otherwise in the video explanation. Blake said the hit, which was in violation of Rule 41.1, was a reckless hit from behind.

Carcillo leans on Pitkanen from behind. At this point, Pitkanens balance is intact and his feet are planted securely on the ice, Blake said. When Carcillo pushes him, it throws (Pitkanen) forward, causing him to toe pick which leads to his loss of balance.

Carcillo is a repeat offender in the NHL, with the latest being his fifth suspension, and that probably didnt help matters when the punishment was handed down.

Theres not too much leeway in this league (for me). Maybe give some serious thought to changing my last name or something, Carcillo said.

Quenneville concurred.

His scrutiny when hes on the ice, his leash for what he can and cannot do is very short and I think he knows that, he said. Thats something well always be aware of when we go forward. We dont want him slowing down with how he plays the game.

The NHL has made it clear that its taking a harder stance on hits to vulnerable players, or hits on players in vulnerable positions. Carcillo was playing well for the Blackhawks in the early going. But right now, hell have to sit the next two out.

I thought I was doing a pretty good job of making safe hits and Ive never been suspended for a hit and Ive made hundreds every year, he said. Im just frustrated right now. Its a tough pill to swallow.

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

It wasn't pretty, but the Blackhawks found a way to pick up another two points and improved to 6-0-1 over their last seven games, and 18-3-1 over their last 22.

With Minnesota's loss to Philadelphia, the Blackhawks have taken an eight-point lead for first in the Central Division and are only two points away from the Washington Capitals for home-ice advantage throughout the entire Stanley Cup playoffs.

Let's take a look at Quick Hits from the 3-2 shootout victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night:

What Worked: The finish and shootout. While the Blackhawks scored the game's first goal, it was another slow start by a team that has had a few of those over the last several outings and has preached working on turning in more of a complete effort. They recorded only 14 shots on goal in the first two periods, and it took more than six minutes after Patrick Kane's goal to record their next one.

But they finished on a positive note yet again, and went 2-for-3 in the shootout thanks to Kane and Artemi Panarin, who potted the game winner. Kane said after the game that he tried his move on Scott Darling during morning skate and it worked. So he went with it tonight in an effort to snap a mini shootout drought and he did.

What Didn't Work: Controlling the puck. The Blackhawks seemingly have the puck more than their opponent does almost every game, but it doesn't reflect in the shot department because they often look for the perfect pass or shot and fail to record one at all. They had 50 shot attempts with 26 of them on goal compared to the Stars' 64 attempts with 44 on goal. They know they must get better at that.

Star of the game: Corey Crawford. After allowing four goals on only 10 shots in Tuesday's overtime loss to Vancouver, the Blackhawks netminder bounced back in a huge way. He matched a season-high with 42 saves, and recorded his 30th win of the season.

He Said It: "He played amazing tonight. Reason we won the game. Hats off to him, he's done that a lot this year. For a goalie it's probably tough to show up every night, even the goals he let in last game you can't put all the blame on him, but he was outstanding tonight." — Kane on Crawford's performance

By the Numbers:

167 — Niklas Hjalmarsson blocked one shot in the win, and it was enough to set a new career high in that department, previously established during the 2010-11 campaign (166).

15 — Trevor van Riemsyk assisted on Marian Hossa's goal in the third period, giving him a career-high 15 points on the season in 50 games. He had 14 points in 82 games last year. He also extended his point streak to three games.

6 — With the victory, Crawford has earned at least 30 wins in six of his seven NHL seasons as a full-time starter. The only time he didn't reach that mark was during the lockout-shortened year in 2012-13 when he went 19-5-5.

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