Chris Chelios was wrong. He didn’t get Paul Kariya, but defense partner Gary Suter certainly did with a cross check to the jaw in the second period Sunday at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim.
And the Mighty Ducks were furious about it after a 4-3 overtime victory over the Chicago Blackhawks before 17,174. Kariya suffered a mild concussion and a bruised jaw and could not play the final 30 minutes.
Asked if he planned to have a videotape of the play sent to the league office, Duck President Tony Tavares said, “You bet your [expletive]. We can’t get it there fast enough. I’m thinking about sending somebody on a plane to New York with it.”
Brian Burke, NHL director of hockey operations, is expected to review the tape early this week. It’s up to Burke to then impose a suspension and/or fine, if warranted.
Kariya had just scored his second goal of the game when Suter leveled him with a cross check at 3:39 of the second period. Kariya, a favorite target of Chelios throughout his career, lay prone on the ice for several seconds before anyone noticed him.
Referee Dan Marouelli apparently did not see the play because he did not penalize Suter. The Ducks surrounded Suter, but a payback was not immediately forthcoming.
“It’s just absurd,” Tavares said after Teemu Selanne’s game-winning goal 2:51 into overtime. “How that doesn’t get called is beyond my comprehension.”
Kariya’s status for Wednesday’s game against the New York Rangers at the Pond is uncertain. He will be examined further today.
“Paul remembers going up to the referee later,” said Craig Milhouse, the Ducks’ team physician. “Teemu passed him the puck and he didn’t know where he was. I’d have to say he’s questionable for Wednesday.”
Perhaps only the timing and severity of the cross check came as a surprise. Chelios, following his normal method of operation, menaced Kariya at length during the Blackhawks’ 2-0 victory Dec. 28 in Chicago. At one point, he could be seen on TV replays telling Kariya, “I’ll get you, Paul.”
But Chelios on Sunday couldn’t catch up to Kariya, who scored his 16th and 17th goals. Suter appeared to handle Chelios’ dirty work just fine, however. Kariya took one more shift after his second goal, but left for the dressing room complaining of a “woozy” feeling.
Kariya declined to speak to reporters after the game, so it was up to others to address Suter’s play.
“It was a cheap shot,” said Duck forward Ted Drury, who received a fighting major and a game misconduct in the third period. “I can understand their position, but it was an illegal cross check. He popped him right in the head.”
Said Suter: “The puck was between my legs and I turned around and cross checked [Kariya]. I didn’t mean to hit him so high. It was just a reaction to me turning around and seeing a guy shoot.
“He must have been [crouched] down low or something. I don’t even know where he was. I don’t want to see anyone get hurt.”
TV replays clearly showed Kariya alone at the right goal post, then lifting a rebound of Selanne’s shot from the left post over Chicago goaltender Jeff Hackett. Suter was stationed behind the goal line when he belted Kariya, who drifted slightly in his direction after scoring.
“I’ve only seen the replay once, but it’s not like it was an accident,” Duck Coach Pierre Page said. “It was intentional. It looked like [Suter] is mad because [Kariya] scored the goal.”
For once, the Ducks at least attempted to respond to the muggings of Kariya and Selanne. They even resorted to the cheap stuff themselves.
Duck defenseman Ruslan Salei head-butted Chicago’s Sergei Krivokrasov during a lopsided fight that highlighted a third-period brawl in front of goalie Guy Hebert. The Blackhawks are expected to send a tape of the head-butt to the league office.
Drury and Chicago’s Keith Carney fought on the undercard during the scrum at 5:11 of the third period and were ejected. Duck defenseman David Karpa, who fought Ethan Moreau only 21 seconds into the game, and Chicago’s Alex Zhamnov were penalized for roughing.
By game’s end, Marouelli had handed out 106 penalty minutes to the teams.