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Cheap shot on Blackhawks’ Marian Hossa called ‘turning point’ of series

Phoenix goalie Mike Smith is able sit puck before it finds back net shot by Hawks winger Andrew Shaw second

Phoenix goalie Mike Smith is able to sit on the puck before it finds the back of the net on a shot by Hawks winger Andrew Shaw in the second period. The Chicago Blackhawks lost game six 4-0 and the series 4-2 in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to the Coyotes Monday April 23, 2012 at the United Center. | TOM CRUZE~Sun-Times

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Updated: May 25, 2012 8:17AM



If there’s one lasting image of the Blackhawks’ first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Coyotes, it may be star winger Marian Hossa getting carted off the United Center ice on a stretcher because of a dirty shoulder-to-head hit by Raffi Torres in Game 3.

Coach Joel Quenneville called it the ‘‘turning point’’ of the series.

‘‘I always look back at a series and if there’s a defining situation that you could say, ‘That was a turning point,’ ’’ Quenneville said after the Hawks were eliminated with a 4-0 loss Monday in Game 6. ‘‘I thought that was probably one.’’

Hossa’s loss was tough to compensate for over the last three games, but it’s even tougher considering how bad he’s been doing. Hossa (suspected concussion) visited the United Center on Monday.

‘‘He hasn’t felt very well at all,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘It was his first day out of the house. He’s not doing a lot. We saw him [Monday]. Hopefully he progresses.’’

Hossa didn’t have a point in the first three games but was a plus-3.

‘‘He’s huge for us,’’ center Jonathan Toews said after Game  6. ‘‘When he’s around, there is not really any pressure on one guy to score all the goals and create all the offense. He brings a lot to both sides of the puck. We missed him a great deal.’’

Rookie experiences

Rookie winger Brandon Saad was scratched for Game 6 after playing the last two games since being recalled from the Ontario Hockey League.

The 19-year-old was thrust into a key role with Hossa injured and played with the Hawks’ best players, notching a plus-2 rating and an assist.

‘‘It’s been a lot of fun, something I’ve dreamed of,’’ Saad said. ‘‘Phoenix is a good team, a good shutdown team. It’s been a lot of work and nothing like I’ve ever been a part of.’’

Rookie forward Jimmy Hayes earned himself another game Monday after coach Joel Quenneville said he was ‘‘a factor’’ in Game 5.

‘‘It was really fun playing in that game,’’ Hayes said of his playoff debut. ‘‘You can definitely see it’s faster out there. That’s why you work hard in practice and make sure it carries over.’’

Down and out

After missing only one game during the regular season, veteran Jamal Mayers was a healthy scratch for the third game in row.

‘‘Obviously, mostly I’m mad at myself for somehow allowing that to happen,’’ Mayers said. ‘‘It’s the time of the year [where] it’s the reason why I signed here, so it certainly is disappointing.’’



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