Blackhawks Survive Game 1, Earn An Early Series Lead

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

The Blackhawks pulled out a 3-1 win over the Kings in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.

The Blackhawks were able to grind out a nice victory over the Kings on Sunday afternoon.  There will not be a lot of style points awarded, but a 1-0 series lead is all that matters.

It didn't take long to see which team had the extra rest going into Game 1.  The Blackhawks had the faster legs at the start and used them to establish puck possession and generate some good offensive pressure early. Michal Rozsival had a chance at a wide open net, about five minutes in, thanks to a nice feed from Kris Versteeg but missed it.  Alec Martinez was called for roughing at 12:48 when he shoved Brandon Bollig after the whistle.  Bollig went down way too easy to help the refs make their call.  The Blackhawks were able to strike with a power play at the end of an extended shift inside the Kings zone.  Marian Hossa took the puck away from Trevor Lewis, got it to Nick Leddy who had his slap shot from the point deflected past Jonathan Quick by Brandon Saad.

It appeared that Jonathan Toews gave the Hawks a 2-0 early in the 2nd period but his goal was disallowed due to contact with Jonathan Quick.  The Kings seemed to have gained their legs half way through the 1st period and it carried over into the 2nd. Tyler Toffoli would tie the game up a little more than a minute after the disallowed goal.  Michal Rozsival got caught up at the blue line and Toffoli was able to beat Brandon Bollig to the net where he tipped in a nifty pass from Tanner Pearson.  Duncan Keith would give the Hawks the lead back at 11:54 when his shot from the blue line was deflected and then jumped high off the ice and over Quick for his third goal of the playoffs.  The Blackhawks were outshot 17-6 in the 2nd period but took the 2-1 lead into the second intermission.

The 3rd period evened out a bit, with both teams getting time in the offensive zone. Jonathan Toews was able to score a goal that stayed on the board by finishing off a 3 on 1 at 16:10.  The rush started when Jake Muzzin pulled himself out of position to make a hit on Bryan Bickell, which he was getting a penalty for anyways.  The Hawks withstood a 6 on 5 advantage for the Kings after they pulled Quick with well over two minutes left in the game.  The series will take two days off before Game 2 on Wednesday, which will give both coaches extra time to make adjustments.

* After getting the chance to review the disallowed goal, I do think the right was made in the end.  They way the officials came to that conclusion was confusing as all hell.  Toews did make contact with Quick before the puck crossed the line, which by rule, is not a goal.  The refs called it a good goal on the ice and then either reviewed an unviewable play or discussed it or RoShamBo'd for the call.  In the end, it didn't have anything to do with the outcome.  Great teams overcome bad calls.

* Brandon Saad has been pretty nondescript through the first two rounds of the playoffs, but he was the best player on the ice in Game 1.  He scored the first goal by getting to thefront of the net, had the primary assist on Duncan Keith's game winning and was a beast all over the ice.  I lost count of how many times the Hawks got extended shifts in the LA zone because of Saad winning a puck battle or forcing a turnover.  This is a very encouraging sign for things to come.  If Saad can start bringing some scoring depth this is going to be a fun finish to the season.

* Sunday was a prime example of why Patrick Kane needs to get away from Michal Handzus.  The Kings focused solely on Kane because they are not worried about Handzus getting extra space on the ice.  Halfway through the game Q swapped Brandon Saad for Patrick Sharp on the second line instead of dropping Zus.  That is not a terrible move because Saad's forechecking should free up some space for Kane if they should stay together for Game 2.  My ideal center for Patrick Kane is Jonathan Toews.

* Once again the Blackhawks were able to neutralize their opponent's top line.  Marian Gaborik and Anze Kopitar were pretty quite in Game 1.  The Kings got their lone goal and the most chances from their second line of Tyler Toffoli, Jeff Carter and Tanner Pearson.  That line has good speed and could cause fits in Los Angeles when the Kings have the last change.

* Corey Crawford had to come with a handful of big stops in the 2nd period but he was never in constant turmoil Sunday afternoon.  Sure the Kings had 58 shot attempts to the Blackhawks' 43, but there were only a handful of great scoring chances.  The Kings seemed to be happy to get the puck in the zone and quickly get it on net.

* Darryl Sutter is playing with fire if he is going to give the Hawks the neutral zone all series long.

* I am just going to leave this here...

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Advanced Stats

Player

Pos.

ES TOI

CF%

CF% Rel

CF% Close

CF%Rel

Close

O/Dst%

Keith, Duncan

D

20:15

30.8

-17.5

35.0

-10.7

40.0

Hjalmarsson, Niklas

D

17:37

50.0

10.7

45.0

3.7

28.6

Seabrook, Brent

D

19:49

39.3

-5.4

36.4

-9.1

40.0

Leddy, Nick

D

13:55

42.9

0.0

48.0

9.0

70.0

Sharp, Patrick

R

14:07

31.8

-15.0

38.9

-4.9

57.1

Regin, Peter

C

11:06

33.3

-12.1

38.5

-4.9

53.8

Kruger, Marcus

C

12:12

38.9

-5.1

43.8

1.8

0.0

Toews, Jonathan

C

14:54

54.8

19.0

47.8

8.3

33.3

Saad, Brandon

L

13:17

41.2

-2.1

30.8

-14.5

36.4

Versteeg, Kris

R

10:47

38.9

-5.1

35.7

-8.5

58.3

Handzus, Michal

C

15:08

31.6

-14.6

31.3

-14.8

42.9

Oduya, Johnny

D

18:14

54.8

19.0

45.5

4.5

28.6

Smith, Ben

R

10:30

37.5

-6.6

46.2

4.6

0.0

Bickell, Bryan

L

13:49

60.0

24.4

55.0

18.0

57.1

Rozsival, Michal

D

14:17

34.5

-12.8

43.5

1.6

70.0

Bollig, Brandon

L

09:00

40.0

-3.5

46.2

4.6

0.0

Hossa, Marian

R

13:39

50.0

10.7

45.5

4.5

33.3

Kane, Patrick

R

17:34

43.5

0.9

41.2

-1.7

50.0

Player

Pos.

ES TOI

CF%

CF% Rel

CF% Close

CF%Rel

Close

O/Dst%

Muzzin, Jake

D

20:25

41.9

-24.1

47.8

-15.0

56.3

Doughty, Drew

D

21:22

53.3

-5.9

54.5

-4.5

56.3

Richards, Mike

C

15:36

60.0

3.8

56.3

-1.8

50.0

Kopitar, Anze

C

15:17

56.0

-1.6

57.9

0.4

75.0

Gaborik, Marian

R

15:32

51.7

-8.3

54.5

-4.5

75.0

Clifford, Kyle

L

12:04

60.0

3.5

57.1

-0.5

50.0

Williams, Justin

R

14:42

54.5

-3.5

60.0

3.1

41.7

Lewis, Trevor

C

10:05

58.8

2.1

53.3

-5.5

50.0

Brown, Dustin

L

14:30

48.0

-13.0

55.0

-3.7

72.7

Voynov, Slava

D

19:19

55.9

-2.1

59.3

2.8

52.9

Martinez, Alec

D

11:34

65.0

10.3

58.8

1.7

66.7

Stoll, Jarret

C

11:34

44.4

-16.2

50.0

-9.6

57.1

Mitchell, Willie

D

15:11

50.0

-10.3

42.1

-21.7

58.3

Schultz, Jeff

D

14:52

81.5

35.9

79.2

33.9

54.5

Pearson, Tanner

L

11:26

62.5

6.6

61.5

4.9

20.0

Toffoli, Tyler

C

13:59

62.5

7.5

61.1

4.9

55.6

King, Dwight

L

12:36

63.2

7.8

60.0

3.1

60.0

Carter, Jeff

C

13:25

68.2

15.0

64.7

9.6

42.9

*all data collected from www.nhl.com and www.extraskater.com

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