Duncan Keith’s shot went off a few sticks, none belonging to teammates, but it didn’t matter. It was a goal that the Chicago Blackhawks needed, considering their misfortune at the start of the second period, and it’s a goal that would stick.
Keith’s goal proved to be the game-winner, and Jonathan Toews scored late after an earlier goal of his was overturned as the Blackhawks beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-1 on Sunday afternoon. The Blackhawks took Game 1 of the Western Conference Final series, with Game 2 here at 7 p.m. CT Wednesday.
Corey Crawford stopped 25 of 26 shots, including 16 of 17 in the second period, for the victory. Brandon Saad had a goal and an assist and Marian Hossa had two assists for the Blackhawks.
The Kings were coming off a thrilling seven-game series against the Anaheim Ducks, which ended just two days ago. Outside of the first few minutes, however, the Kings weren’t showing any lack of speed or energy coming off those two series, both of which went the distance.
[MORE: Blackhawks, Kings engage in Twitter battle]
Still, the Blackhawks got the desired start and, more so, the desired first-goal edge. Saad was parked in front on the Blackhawks’ power play and, with two seconds left on the advantage, redirected a Nick Leddy shot for a 1-0 lead. It looked like that lead would be 2-0 after Toews’ drive to the net early in the second; his shot went off Kings defenseman Slava Voynov’s skate and past Jonathan Quick. But officials, per review, said it was no goal and the Blackhawks’ lead remained 1-0.
“I think when it comes down to it, it was disappointing because of, you know, how the play was called on the ice, the fact it was non-reviewable,” Toews said. “I think some of those go against us. We were hoping that one was going to go for us in a way.”
It didn’t, and the Kings capitalized from the call. Tyler Toffoli, off a pretty feed from Tanner Pearson, tied the game a little more than a minute after the disallowed goal. The Kings outshot the Blackhawks for the rest of the period, 17-6, with Crawford holding them off the score sheet outside of Toffoli’s equalizer.
“There are swings, momentum switches. But to stick with it and keep our shifts short, keep it simple and not give them much, we stuck with it and it tilted our way,” Bryan Bickell said of the second period. “They’re pushing for a goal to tie it up and we capitalized on one of their mistakes.”
Indeed, the Blackhawks had the final answer in the second period, with Keith’s shot from the blue line hit at least one Kings stick, possibly two, for a 2-1 edge.
[RELATED: Toews' goal disallowed in second period for goalie interference]
Toews, on a 3-on-1 with Johnny Oduya and Hossa, scored his sixth goal of the postseason to put the Blackhawks up 3-1 with just under four minutes remaining in regulation.
“That third period today was rock solid,” Crawford said. “I don't remember too many great chances that they got in the third. We kind of just shut them down there, and it was obviously got a key goal by (Toews).”
The Kings didn’t look weary for long in this one. Still, the Blackhawks withstood the pressure, got past what could have been a deflating no-goal call and prevailed. It wasn’t easy; it’s not going to be the rest of the way, either.
“You’ve got to commend our players for not changing their approach in big games,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I think there's always going to be adversity in the course of a game, you're always going to lose momentum in the course of a game. Against a good team like that, you want to get it back as quick as you can, which I thought was a big point in today's win.”