Dustin Byfuglien spent a good portion of the season on defense, filling the void as the Chicago Blackhawks persevered through injured blue liners.
In Game 3 of the second-round series on Tuesday, Byfuglien spent much of the night planted in front of the net of the host Vancouver Canucks as he netted a hat trick -- his first points of the playoffs -- in a 5-2 Blackhawks victory at GM Place.
"That's my job to be in position and make them work around me," Byfuglien told reporters after Chicago built a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo certainly didn't have an answer.
The first two goals came on the power play as Luongo allowed rebounds that Byfuglien directed into the net. His final goal -- which was also the game's final with six minutes left in regulation -- was the most controversial as it appeared he shoved Luongo into the net along with the puck.
"That's something out of our control," said Luongo, who finished with 30 saves. "Obviously, it's disappointing. ... You try the best you can. What else can you do? What else are you going to do? Once it's called, it's called. You can't argue with that. You are trying to do your best to hold your ground. It's impossible."
The call was subject to a video review, although not for goalie interference. A replay showed that the puck went off of Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler's skate and was not kicked in by Chicago.
The goal completed the first road hat trick by a Blackhawks player since Denis Savard in 1988.
"Sometimes it just happens to a guy," Byfuglien said. "Everybody is working hard. I've been working hard myself. It finally paid off."
Byfuglien was grouped with young All-Star forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, who each finished with fine nights.
"Big Buf is doing what he's gotta do out there," said Toews, who had three assists to go along with two by Kane. "Whether he's playing forward or on the blue line, he's doing some good things out there. I think in the last couple games, especially on the power play, he's been a big presence."
"I definitely think so," Byfuglien said when asked whether he took the Canucks out of their game. "They have to worry about me coming and worry about getting hit and stuff. It's part of the game."
Antti Niemi again was more than adequate in net for the Blackhawks as he made 31 saves.