Blackhawks say Shaw, Kruger good to go for Game 6
CHICAGO -- Forward Andrew Shaw's right leg hit the boards awkwardly late in the third period of Game 5 in the Western Conference Final, but he is expected to be in the lineup for the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday in Game 6 at Staples Center.
Shaw was trying to take Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin into the boards in the offensive zone, but his right skate smacked into the kickboard at the bottom of the half wall and his right knee appeared to buckle slightly. After gingerly skating back to the bench following his hit on Muzzin, Shaw stayed in the game and finished the Blackhawks' 5-4 victory in double overtime.
Shaw missed seven games after an upper-body injury sustained in Game 1 of the second round against the Minnesota Wild.
"He's good to go," coach Joel Quenneville said Thursday at O'Hare Airport before the Blackhawks flew to Los Angeles. "He was real good for us all game. He came back."
Shaw finished the game with two assists and a plus-3 rating in 24:17. He also led the Blackhawks with eight hits and centered their most effective line with left wing Brandon Saad (one goal, two assists) and right wing Patrick Kane (four assists) flanking him.
The Kings lead the best-of-7 series 3-2 and get their second chance to close it out Friday (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
Quenneville also said center Marcus Kruger was fine after a big hit from Muzzin right in front of the Chicago bench late in the third period.
"It was a good hit," Quenneville said. "He wasn't going at full speed. Saw [Kruger] at the end. Probably looked worse than it was. He takes some tough hits. Last night, it looked like he probably got crushed or killed, but it wasn't that bad. It was right in front of us. I got to see it. Sometimes you're making contact with the boards. Sometimes you can get hit pretty hard. He's pretty good about absorbing it, rolling off it, but he's pretty tough, too."
Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg isn't banged up, but he might not be in the lineup Friday. Versteeg didn't see another shift after playing a role in Kings forward Dustin Brown's goal at 11:08 of the second period that made it 3-3. Versteeg couldn't handle the puck along the boards after Brent Seabrook's pass while being pushed to the ice by Muzzin. Brown scored seconds later, and Versteeg spent the rest of the game on the bench.
Quenneville didn't say Versteeg would sit for Game 6, but he did say some lineup tweaks might be in the offing.
Versteeg has one goal, three points and is minus-5 in 14 games in the postseason; he does not have a point in this series. Quenneville was asked if Versteeg's struggles are more mental or physical.
"It was a tough night, the one shift particularly," Quenneville said. "[He's] just got to battle through it. It's a competitive game. Not a lot of time, not a lot of space. You got to do whatever you can to advance the puck and contribute."