Hawks-Kings Game 1
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The Chicago Blackhawks have been frustrated by goaltenders before.
The last round comes to mind, actually. And they knew the way they finally broke through against Detroit’s Jimmy Howard, with bodies and sticks and traffic and a lot of shots, would be needed even more to get something past Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick. And in a four-minute span on Saturday afternoon, the Blackhawks got that.
Patrick Sharp scored his eighth goal of the postseason and Marian Hossa tallied his sixth less than four minutes later as the Blackhawks beat the Kings 2-1 in their Western Conference Final opener at the United Center. The Blackhawks take a 1-0 series lead in the series, with Game 2 in Chicago Sunday night.
The shots were there early for the Blackhawks, but the results weren’t. Quick was seeing everything, as the Blackhawks’ attempts were more around the perimeter than right in front of him. And despite out-shooting the Kings 17-2 in that first period, the Blackhawks ended up trailing when Corey Crawford’s clear was blocked by the Kings’ Brad Richardson, and Justin Williams scored seconds later for a 1-0 advantage.
“I thought I made a pretty good backhand. But the guy was able to get to the boards quick enough. It bounced up front, just took a weird bounce. So what,” said Crawford, who stopped 21 of 22 for the victory. “Nobody was worried. We were focused on going out in the second and playing our game.”
[WATCH: Quenneville happy with first line]
Indeed, the Blackhawks tapped back into that attitude they’ve carried throughout these playoffs, especially when they’ve been done: shake it off, forget about it and move on.
“Obviously it’s not the score we’d like after a first period but we knew there was a lot of hockey left to be played,” Duncan Keith said. “We were happy with how we played despite that goal. We knew we had a strong period. We wanted to keep going, stick with it.”
Coach Joel Quenneville agreed.
“We just wanted to make sure we don't get discouraged, and find a way to persevere off the rush,” Quenneville said. “That first shot against him is tough. You need traffic. You need a deflection. He finds a way to find pucks. I think the volume and traffic of shots is the only way to get to this guy.”
In the second period, the Blackhawks did. Johnny Oduya’s shot caromed off Quick, and Sharp came through the slot and score on the rebound to tie it 1-1. A few minutes later Duncan Keith fired from the blue line and Hossa deflected it past Quick for a 2-1 advantage.
[Blackhawks PGL: Hawks aggressive, physical in Game 1 win]
“He’s a good goalie, we all know that. He makes saves when he sees the puck and he makes saves when he doesn’t see them,” Sharp said. “Any time you can get those second and third chances, drive the net, get to the inside, that’s the idea. We were fortunate with a couple in the second period and it was enough to hang on.”
Don’t be surprised if this final score is repeated a few times in this series. Any kind of one-goal margin wouldn’t be a surprise, really. As Sharp said, it only gets tougher as they go. The space is limited, the goaltending tough on both ends. The Blackhawks found a way to get two past Quick on Saturday. They’ll need a few more.
“They’re going to be tight, low scoring games,” Brent Seabrook said. “Both teams have highly skilled forwards and defensemen. It’s going to be a tight series. Every goal is going to be important and we understand that.”