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Top Chicago Blackhawks Playoff Wins: Teeth

By Colin Likas
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To me, there was one iconic moment in the Chicago Blackhawks’ 2010 Stanley Cup run that stood out from all the rest. Of course there was Patrick Kane‘s game-winning and Cup-winning goal in Game 6 against Philadelphia. But there was an event before that which remains connected to the person it involved to this day.

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With the Blackhawks attempting a surprising sweep of the top-seeded San Jose Sharks that year, Duncan Keith made himself pretty close to immortal among Chicago fans with his performance — and if he wasn’t considered immortal after this, I think the rest of his current run with the Blackhawks has sealed that.

With that, we take a look at the Keith “Teeth Game” in the next entry on our countdown of most memorable Blackhawks playoff wins under coach Joel Quenneville.

Note: Check out the previous entries in this series at the end of this post.

No. 10: 2010 Western Conference finals, Game 4

Chicago Blackhawks 4, San Jose Sharks 2

Outside of Keith’s lost teeth, this game was pretty memorable for other reasons. The Blackhawks fell behind early at the United Center, only to come storming back to clinch their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since 1992.

Antti Niemi had to be sharp early, as the Sharks came out fighting for their season. Patrick Marleau and an unidentified Sharks player worked a nice pass-redirect to get the puck in high on Niemi in the early stages of the game, but the goaltender shoulder that bid aside.

But a little while later, after the Sharks won an offensive zone faceoff, Devin Setoguchi tried to throw the puck toward Niemi from the halfboard. It hit traffic but found Logan Couture, who collected and fired a shot high and past Niemi to stake Stan Jose to a 1-0 lead halfway through the first. It’s interesting to note this wasn’t a well-known Couture at this point. Doc Emrick mentions after the goal that Couture had been called up from the AHL eight times during the 2009-10 season. Needless to say, he was sticking around the NHL after this.

Brian Campbell tried to kickstart the Chicago offense late in the first by pinching in and firing the puck on net. Evgeni Nabakov turned that aside, then stopped Troy Brouwer from a bad angle on a rebound attempt.

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  • Now, if the Blackhawks had lost this game, Keith’s teeth moment probably wouldn’t be very iconic at all. There’s a double reason for that: The pass that blew out part of Keith’s dental work led to a shorthanded goal for San Jose just moments later.

    The Blackhawks were on the powerplay about 7:30 into the second when the Sharks gained control of the puck. Marleau attempted a clear, which was successful — but only after the puck ricocheted off Keith’s face and down the ice. Pierre McGuire, between the benches, immediately saw what happened and shouted, as though feeling Keith’s pain. But there was no time to focus on what had happened with Keith, as the Sharks stormed down the ice and converted shorthanded. Joe Pavelski, Marc Edouard-Vlasic and Marleau combined for a nice tic-tac-toe passing play, after which Marleau deposited the puck behind Niemi on a one-timer.

    The Blackhawks seemed stunned after Keith was hit by the puck and almost stopped playing, creating a rare shorthanded 3-on-2 chance for San Jose. The good news out of all of this for the Blackhawks was that Keith only missed about seven minutes of ice time getting mouth repairs.

    Keith is the guy in red at the top center of the screen, reacting adversely to having vulcanized rubber shot at his face. (Screenshot from YouTube)

    But as the Sharks have often managed to do in recent years, they blew this lead. The Blackhawks certainly appreciated it.

    Brent Seabrook got things going about six minutes after the Sharks’ second goal, carrying the puck down low and tossing it at Nabakov. Kris Versteeg and Marian Hossa were both in the vicinity of the net, but so were three Sharks (plus Nabakov). Still, the puck couldn’t be controlled, and it eventually slipped past Nabokov and over the goal line for a split second. After video review, the referees saw this as well, and the Blackhawks were on the board. The goal was credited to Seabrook, meaning the Sharks jammed the puck into their own net.

    Todd McLellan

    was not amused. (Screenshot from YouTube)

    Before the period was over, the Blackhawks were back to even with the Sharks. With less than two minutes to play, Ben Eager kept the puck in Chicago’s offensive zone and chipped it to Dave Bolland behind Nabakov. Bolland won a board battle with Couture (maybe he wasn’t totally ready for the NHL), carried it out in front and fired it off Nabakov’s glove and into the twine, sending the UC into a frenzy.

    San Jose almost erased those good feelings quickly, as the Sharks had a solid offensive possession to open the third. Setoguchi decided to try another spinaround shot, and this one hit Joe Thornton‘s stick and then the crossbar behind Niemi. But the goaltender plopped down on the puck to keep it from getting any closer to goal territory.

    The Blackhawks would take control after a Dany Heatley penalty a little more than 12 minutes into the third. With time winding down on the ensuing powerplay, Kane carried the puck down low and tried to give it to Jonathan Toews, with Dustin Byfuglien camping out in front of Nabakov. Toews had the puck immediately knocked off his stick, but it went straight back to Kane, who decided to just throw it toward the crease. Byfuglien got a piece of it and sent the puck through Nabakov, inching Chicago closer to that Stanley Cup Final berth.

    With San Jose’s door almost closed, Thornton won an offensive zone draw with Nabakov pulled. But Seabrook battled for the loose puck and sent it toward center ice, where Versteeg collected it and sent a backhander into the wide-open crease to ice this contest. Much hugging was done on the ice and on the bench, and towels were thrown from the crowd onto the ice as the team was about 40 seconds from reaching the final step to a championship.

    And who was the first Blackhawk to greet Niemi after the win? A very mouth-spacious Keith.

    I’ve always looked like this, Antti. (Screenshot from YouTube)

    Keith was nice enough to conduct some interviews after the game, with this one being the winner.

    Keith cemented his position as one of the tougher guys around by telling NHL.com, “It’s just missing teeth. It’s a long way from the heart.” And with that, the Blackhawks were on to the Stanley Cup Final, and we had a very memorable hockey game as Blackhawks fans.

    Previous entries

    No. 11 | No. 12 | No. 13 | No. 14 | No. 15 | No. 16 | No. 17 | No. 18 | No. 19 | No. 20 | No. 21 | No. 22 | No. 23 | No. 24 | No. 25 | No. 26 | No. 27 | No. 28 | No. 29 | No. 30 | No. 31 | No. 32 | No. 33 | No. 34 | No. 35 | No. 36 | No. 37 | No. 38 | No. 39 | No. 40 | No. 41 | No. 42 | No. 43 | No. 44 | No. 45 | No. 46 | No. 47 | No. 48 | No. 49 | No. 50 | No. 51 | No. 52 | No. 53 | No. 54 | No. 55 | No. 56 | No. 57 | No. 58 | No. 59 | No. 60 | No. 61 | No. 62 | No. 63 | No. 64 | No. 65 | No. 66 | No. 67 | No. 68 | No. 69 | No. 70 | No. 71 | No. 72 | No. 73

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