Ex-Hawk Fraser helps Kings take Game 1

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Ex-Hawk Fraser helps Kings take Game 1

NEWARK, N.J. Colin Fraser likes to joke around with his L.A. Kings teammates about his goal-scoring ability. The former Blackhawks forwards timing on getting his first postseason one couldnt have been better.

Fraser scored the first goal of his NHL playoff career on Wednesday night, and Anze Kopitar had the breakaway winner in overtime as the Kings beat the New Jersey Devils 2-1 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday night. It was another road victory for the Kings, who are a perfect 9-0 away from home during these playoffs.

And it was a chance for Fraser, who was with the Blackhawks organization from 2004 to 2010, to score that infrequent goal at a critical time.

It feels like it was a long time coming, Fraser said afterward. Its not my No.-1 role but we all want to chip in when we can. Im not going to change the way I play but hopefully Ill get another one.

Frasers first was a big one, a wrister he tallied after Jordan Nolan forced a turnover to give the Kings a 1-0 lead midway through the first period.

I just tried to find an open area high, Fraser said. He hit me high and I was just trying to get it off as fast as I could. Nolan was the guy who forced the turnover and did the work.

Fraser got the finish but he didnt get the puck. Still, the work he and fellow fourth liners Nolan and Brad Richardson did boosted the Kings in the early going.

They probably had one of the best games in the playoffs so far, said Kopitar. They had some good ones before, but tonight they capped it off with a nice goal and that definitely got us going in the first period. We came out slower than we wanted to, and the way they established the forecheck gave us a huge boost.

Jonathan Quick did the rest for the Kings, stopping 17 of 18. But it wasnt a night of big shots for either team. The Devils had just five shots in the first period, didnt get their first of the second period until about halfway through it. Yet they tied the game at 1-1 when Anton Volchenkovs shot went off Kings defenseman Slava Voynov and past Quick.

Martin Brodeur showed his vintage side a few times in Game 1, including on a stellar pad save late in the third period. But the Kings were relentless in their pursuit, and it paid off in overtime. Justin Williams backhanded a pass to Kopitar, who skated wide open down the middle and wristed one off a sprawling Brodeur to clinch Game 1.

I saw (Williams) on the boards battling and I wanted to make sure I went through the middle, Kopitar said. I yelled for the puck and he threw it perfect, right on my tape. I was able to finish it off.

The Kings have gotten to this point for a few reasons, Quicks work throughout certainly being one of them. But its also about everyone contributing. Scoring isnt Frasers strong suit. But it suited him just fine in Game 1.

I always joke around, Fraser said. Its not my No. 1 thing, (scoring), but I always give it to the boys about how Im going to score one tonight. I was lucky to get one tonight. Hopefully Ill get more in the future.

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Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

The Blackhawks’ starts have been all over the map this season but their finishes have usually been strong. That was the case again on Sunday night as the Blackhawks took a lead, lost a lead and regained a lead for good in their 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

This one featured a little bit of everything. So let’s just get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over Vancouver.

1. Jonathan Toews breaks through. If the Blackhawks captain’s confidence was a little shaken with his lack of scoring this season, it should’ve gotten a boost with his Sunday outing. Toews’ goal and three assists were as big for him as they were the Blackhawks, who needed every bit of it late against the Canucks. In his last 12 games Toews has three goals and eight assists. He’s getting there. Said coach Joel Quenneville, “it seems like he was around the puck way more and when he does that, usually good things happen.”

2. Great start. This hasn’t been written very often but it was more than evident on Sunday night. If this wasn’t the Blackhawks’ best opening period of the season it was pretty close, as they broke out to a 2-0 lead against the Canucks. The Blackhawks, outside of a 3 ½-minute sequence without a shot on goal, were tenacious and ready to shoot, taking an 18-9 shots-on-goal edge in that first.

3. Corey Crawford rebounds. Quenneville considered Scott Darling for this game, an understandable thought with Darling coming off a 30-stop shutout. But he wanted Crawford to get back to where he was prior to his appendectomy, and Crawford took a step in that direction on Sunday night. In stopping 25 of 27 shots Crawford got his 18th victory of the season and 200th of his career. Quenneville said Crawford “looked like he was in control.”

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4. Michal Kempny’s tough stretch. When Kempny has been good this season he’s been very good. When he’s been bad... The defenseman was in the penalty box when the Canucks scored their first goal and he was beaten by Bo Horvat on the Canucks’ second goal. Kempny didn’t play the final 14 minutes of the game. Quenneville, who liked what Kempny brought on the team’s road trip, said Kempny just has to work through some things. “Coverage with awareness and knowing sometimes it’s man coverage, sometimes it’s playing the puck and clearing the loose stuff,” Quenneville said. “Defenseman is a tough position as you’re growing and learning it, but the more you play the better you play and I still think he’s making progress.”

5. Brian Campbell gets to keep No. 500 this time. Campbell thought he had his 500th point against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night but it was taken away. Well he got it back on Sunday night, setting up Richard Panik’s 11th goal of the season in the first period.