Gritty Keith leads Sunday's Three Stars

Monday May 24th, 2010

1. Duncan Keith: Somehow, Keith managed to lead all skaters in TOI. That alone isn't a revelation, since he has been the busiest skater for the Blackhawks all spring long -- just as he was during the regular season. This time though, Keith took a puck to the mouth early in the second and only missed a handful of shifts despite losing seven teeth. His return later in the period seemed to give the 'Hawks a boost on the bench and they soon rallied to tie the game at 2-2 with two goals in a five-minute span. Even if I'm making too much of the overall effect, Keith's toughness can't be overlooked as both symbolic and real in the Blackhawks' closing effort in Game 4.

2. Kris Versteeg: His effort all over the ice was the most consistent of any of the Blackhawks' forwards. By the numbers, Versteeg was plus-3, scored a goal and set up another, had three hits and was 3-for-4 in the face-off circle. But those only quantify an effort that had to be witnessed. With linemate Andrew Ladd lost to injury in the first, Versteeg elevated his game without getting out of control. His was the perfect blend of offensive enthusiasm and defensive responsibility.

3. Dustin Byfuglien: Yes, Big Buff did it again, scoring the game-winning goal for the third time in this series. It was a man-advantage, post-up play with Byfuglien anchored at the top of the crease. Marc-Edouard Vlasic couldn't handle him and goaltender Evgeni Nabokov had the quick-stick, short-shot of Byfuglien slip between his pads. Patrick Kane's pass was brilliant, but the big man's early set up and soft hands paid it off and in the process finished off the Sharks.

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