Jamie McGinn was a one-man wrecking crew for the San Jose Sharks Friday night, and if the vast majority of the Vancouver Canucks didn't know him before, they know him now.
McGinn knocked two Canucks' defenders out of the game: Christian Ehrhoff in the opening period on a shoulder-on-shoulder collision that forced Ehrhoff to leave the game after playing just seven shifts in under four minutes.
In the third, McGinn also rubbed out the Canucks' Aaron Rome on the bench, hitting him between the numbers as he tried to cut him off. Rome was bleeding as he left the ice; McGinn received a major and a game misconduct on the play. Vancouver scored twice on the five-minute advantage, to make the third game of the Western Conference final close. In the end, the Sharks hung on for a 4-3 victory.
"I'm a player that finishes my checks," said McGinn, who was the Sharks' second-round choice, 36th overall, in the 2006 entry draft and is just 22. "I'm not trying to hurt anyone out there. It's unfortunate he (Rome) got hurt. I tried to cut him off. I thought I hit him on the shoulder. That's all it was."
The play will be automatically reviewed by NHL hockey operations and McGinn faces a possible suspension. He was part of a wholesale fourth-line change by Sharks' coach Todd McLellan, who thought the new unit gave the team the energy it needed, after a desultory and undisciplined 7-3 loss in Vancouver two nights previously.
"I had a chance to watch it on the video and the referees probably made the right call on the ice - there's no doubt about it," said McLellan. "I don't think there was any intent (to injure) on Jamie's behalf. We hope that Rome is healthy. We don't want to see that happen to anybody. It could easily be one of our players in that situation."
"It's tough," said McGinn, who sounded as if he expected a suspension will come. "I got in the line-up finally tonight. I thought I was doing a good job. To go right back upstairs kind of sucks, but I'm glad the boys got the win. We did a good job tonight.
"That's what we've got to do out there - finish checks, create energy and be hard on their 'D.' We played mostly in their end and that's our job."
Ultimately, the hit on Ehrhoff could do the most long-term damage if he's out for any length of time. On average, Ehrhoff played the second most minutes on the Canucks, averaging 24 minutes in the regular season and is just a shade over 23 in the playoffs.
Without Ehrhoff, the Canucks were down to five rearguards and when Rome went out, they were down to four. It meant a game-high 25:39 for Dan Hamhuis; 25:23 for Kevin Bieksa; 24:30 for Sami Salo; and 23:21 for Alex Edler. Keith Ballard is available if one or the other cannot go in Sunday's fourth game.
McGinn explained the Ehrhoff hit this way: "He just pulled up. It was another one, where he just came across. As I said, I'm a player that's going to finish my check. I took advantage of that. I think I might have hurt him.
"On all my hits, I'm not trying to hurt anyone. It's unfortunate he got hurt, but it's probably good for us."