Vancouver Canucks Pay the Price: Bieksa Penalties Prove Costly in Game Five Loss

Jon Neely@@iamjonneelyAnalyst IMay 10, 2009

VANCOUVER, CANADA - MAY 9: A referee gets between Kevin Bieksa #3 of the Vancouver Canucks (L) and Kris Versteeg #32 of the Chicago Blackhawks (R) during Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 09, 2009 at General Motors Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Nick Didlick/Getty Images)

It is going to be a long flight back to Chicago for the Vancouver Canucks after losing 4-2 in Game 5, especially for defenseman Kevin Bieksa.

Nearing the end of the second period, with the Canucks holding onto a 2-1 lead, a scrum started in front of Roberto Luongo and ended up turning into a full-out brawl. With things eventually under control, out of the pile came Kevin Bieksa, gloves dropped, grasping onto Blackhawks rookie Kris Versteeg.

After a few punches were thrown by Bieksa, the two were separated, but he was given a roughing minor that put them down a man, since Versteeg had not dropped the gloves, nor did he intend to.

Dustin Byfuglien tied things up with his second of the game just 1:10 later and Bieksa was forced to take the skate of shame across the ice back to his bench.

The two teams traded blows in the third period as the extremely physical game did not let up, while the refs decided to put the whistles away for the majority of the period.

That was until there was 6:44 remaining in the game, which saw Bieksa once again cost his team a chance at victory. Coming out of his end with the puck, Hawks' Patrick Sharp was slew-footed and high-sticked by Bieksa which once again saw him take a seat in the box at a key point in the game.

Needless to say, he wasn't in the box for the whole two minutes.

After a slick move along the boards which freed up some space, Patrick Kane skated towards the net drawing the defense towards him. He then sent a perfect pass right on the stick on Dave Bolland, who fired it past a diving Luongo to put the Hawks in the lead for good.

Chicago then took control of the game completely for the final five minutes of play, as emotions on the Vancouver bench were running high. Fans littered the ice with garbage in disgust after Ryan Kessler was called for a questionable holding call on what seemed like a dive.

In the end the Blackhawks added an empty net goal, to put a stranglehold on the game and the series, now headed back to Chicago up 3-2 with the third round in their sights.

All the blame for the loss should not be put on the shoulders of Bieksa, as many of the offensive talent that the team counts on failed to show up for most of the game. But the usually steady defender let his emotions get the best of him, and gave a potent offensive team too many chances to take control of the game.

Game Six will no doubt be a physical affair as well, but you have got to think that in the back of his mind, Bieksa will be wondering just who would be up for elimination had he not taken those two penalties.

If the Hawks take advantage of the momentum they've gained heading back to one of the loudest buildings in the league in Chicago, Bieksa will soon have a long summer to think of all the what-ifs he can.


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