BUFFALO, N.Y. -- No play was bigger in Monday's game against the Buffalo Sabres than Niklas Hjalmarsson's hit on forward Jason Pominville.
It changed the complexion of the game -- and really helped swing things back in the Hawks' favor.
The Sabres were upset -- as teams should be -- and went after Hjalmarsson, who was ejected and assessed a five-minute boarding penalty. But the Hawks' killed off the long penalty, and the momentum was on their side.
Hjalmarsson doesn't have a history of violent, dirty hits. His check on Pominville appeared to be more from behind than his right side. Still, it could be debated that it came from the side and that Pominville, who had the puck at his feet, saw him coming.
Hjalmarsson lowered his shoulder and sent Pominville hard into the glass. He was on the ice for several minutes before being taken out on a stretcher.
The NHL has taken a tough stance on hits similar to Hjalmarsson's. It wouldn't be a surprise if he's handed a short suspension. Pominville suffered a concussion.
Here is what Hjalmarsson and the two coaches had to say about the hit:
Hjalmarsson: ''Everything happened so fast but I thought it was a hit shoulder-to-shoulder. My intention obviously wasn't to hurt him. Our doctor said he was up walking, so that's a big relief. It's never fun to see a guy laying on the ice like that. It's good to know that he's up walking. ... I didn't think I was going to be kicked out of the game.
"The decision is in the league's hands now. It's good to know he's all right. Hopefully he gets back as soon as possible."
Joel Quenneville: "You could argue if it was even a penalty. [Hjalmarsson] wasn't looking at the guy [and] was playing the puck. He was compromised. But the hit, there was no intent at all."
Lindy Ruff: "He's not that type of player, but he made a mistake.
"We seemed a little stung for a little while. [Pominville has] really been our iron man. To see somebody there laying there, you're just thinking and praying that he's going to be OK.
"He's doing OK. He got sewn up. He's sitting up. Obviously, he has a concussion.
"He made a big mistake. He caught a player in a tough spot. It'll be addressed."