Late penalty costs Hawks

Tribune staff reporter

Under the best of circumstances, this promised to be a difficult season for the Blackhawks.

With such a young team, the Hawks were counting on a core group of veterans to provide leadership, guidance and a few victories here and there.

But the veterans are dropping one by one to injury, the latest being perhaps the most crucial in the loss of goaltender Jocelyn Thibault for at least two months to a right hip injury.

The schedule continues, though, and Friday night the Hawks were pitted against perhaps the savviest collection of players in the NHL.

They were game but ultimately no match as the Detroit Red Wings got a power-play goal from Brendan Shanahan in overtime for a 4-3 victory before a sellout crowd of 21,856 at the United Center.

The Hawks climbed back from a two-goal third-period deficit to force overtime on goals from rookies Travis Moen and Igor Radulov.

"We played with a lot of character and poise tonight," Hawks coach Brian Sutter said.

After making those comments, Sutter went to the officials' locker room to get an explanation of the penalty given to Brett McLean with 10 seconds remaining and the game tied 3-3.

McLean was whistled for tripping Steve Yzerman.

"When you hook someone in the chest and your feet go straight out beneath them, that's borderline dive," Sutter said. "Walk down the street and try to do that, it's impossible."

Nevertheless, the play continued a trend for McLean in which he takes penalties in the third period of games in which the Hawks are either protecting a lead or tied.

The Wings did not appreciate Sutter questioning the integrity of their captain. And Yzerman wondered why McLean would be in the position to take the penalty.

"Why have a young kid on the ice in the last minute?" Yzerman wondered.

Perhaps Yzerman wasn't aware that just about all the Hawks are young kids, and many of them played well despite the loss, the fourth in the row for the Hawks even though two came in overtime.

Tuomo Ruutu was a physical presence and nearly banged in the game-winner in the final minute with Chris Chelios draped all over him.

Radulov originally was credited with two goals, but the first Hawks goal of the night was changed and credited to Kyle Calder. Radulov was noticeable throughout, though, for the first time in a while.

And goalie Craig Anderson held his own in his first start of the season. Of the Wings' four goals, two came on power plays in which the class of the Wings was too much.

Of the other two, one came short-handed when the combination of Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby outhustled and outworked the Hawks' power-play unit, and Maltby had an even-strength goal that Anderson said glanced off his stick.

"We battled back and got a point out of it," Anderson said.

With the senior players spending more time in the infirmary than on the ice, any positive accomplishments are embraced.

"I'm quite proud of what we got," Sutter said.

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