Blues coach not happy with late-game hit
ST. LOUIS — Ken Hitchcock shot straight.
"Not happy at all," the St. Louis Blues coach said.
His team had just notched a 2-1 shootout victory over the Phoenix Coyotes (18-17-8) on Thursday night at the Scottrade center, a win that improved the Blues' record to 25-16-2.
Instead, Hitchcock was more fired up about a "dangerous play" he believed went unpenalized late in the third period, the same incident that caused him to earn a game misconduct penalty following the final horn.
Moments before Phoenix's Radim Vrbata backhanded a power-play goal past Blues' goalie Brian Elliot with 1:07 left in the game, Alex Pietrangelo was hit hard in the back by Martin Hanzal. Following the goal, a Blues' crowd of more than 17,000 erupted. But no cross-check penalty came.
"Nope," Hitchcock said when asked if he heard from the game's referees. "No explanation. I didn't wait around."
The goal led to a game spilling into overtime, followed by a tense shootout in which Elliot shined by stopping all three shots. The win was the second consecutive game St. Louis has claimed by shootout, but the happy ending didn't carry over to the locker room.
Pietrangelo passed on a chance to sound off on the collision.
"I knew your guys probably wanted to hear something," he said. "It wasn't our best game."
Hitchcock, however, addressed the controversial non-call head on.
"A guy almost went to the fifth row," he said. "There's no ice in the fifth row, last I looked."
The perceived missed cross check of Pietrangelo came after Blues' captain David Backes picked up a boarding penalty that led to the Coyotes' power play. Hitchcock's disagreement, however, was solely with Hanzal's blow to Pietrangelo.
"Listen," Hithcock said. "The penalty that David took, you can't take that penalty. You can't take that penalty at that time. And he knows that. But, that's not the one that bothers me. The one that bothers me is the dangerous play. We could have lost a player. Never mind they scored the goal. We could have lost a player. And that bothers me. When you're killing a penalty, you're trying to clear a puck. You're in a very vulnerable position. That one bothered me."