The Blackhawks took on the Kings in a rematch of last years Western Conference Finals, and when the final horn sounded the result was the same as Game #1 last year, here is the recap of the Blackhawks victory on Sunday afternoon.
At the drop of the puck, the Hawks controlled the tempo and the pace of the game, through the first half, of the first period. At the half-way point, of the 1st period, the Hawks were dominating in Corsi For Percentage 73.3% to the Kings’ 26.7%.
At 12:48, of the first, Brandon Bollig drew a roughing penalty from Alec Martinez to give the Hawks a 2:00 Power Play. After 1:58 of good puck cycling and solid chances, the Hawks finally found the back of the net, as Brandon Saad tipped-in Nick Leddy’s shot from the blueline past Kings goalie, Jonathan Quick for a Power Play goal, to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead.
The opening period would end with the Hawks maintaining the 1-0 lead, after controlling most of the play minus a couple of hiccups.
Much like how they ended the first period, the Kings got off to controlling the puck, early in the second period. Some good goaltending from Corey Crawford preserved the Hawks’ lead, during a good chance, from the Kings. However, it would be the Hawks who would get the next strike, as Jonathan Toews rushed to the net, and somehow, the puck found it’s way past Quick. Unfortunately, the goal would be questionably disallowed, after a review process that said Toews interfered with Quick, on his way to the net, and the score would remain 1-0 Hawks.
The tease of a 2-0 lead and the momentum that would have been gained served as a big let-down, for the Hawks and the United Center faithful. It showed when Tyler Toffoli evened the score at 1, as he put the Kings on the board, and silenced the previously electric United Center, at 4:35 of the 2nd period.
After several minutes of timid play, from the Hawks, the Kings piled collected a few solid scoring chances, but were thwarted by Crawford, each time. Then, at 11:54, of the 2nd, the Hawks fixed the circuit breaker, at the U.C as Duncan Keith’s slapshot got by Quick, to return the lead to the Hawks and re-energize the Hawks faithful, in the stands. The momentum and the lead was back in the Hawks’ possession, after Keith gave them the 2-1 lead.
At 18:57 of the 2nd, Niklas Hjalmarsson would commit a hooking penalty, to give the Kings their first Power Play, of the game. The Hawks would be able to kill the 2nd period portion of the Power Play, while the Kings would start the 3rd period, on the man-advantage.
It was a weird period that saw the Kings outshoot the Hawks 17-6. Even after a disallowed goal, the Hawks were somehow someway able to hold a 2-1 lead, going into the 3rd period.
The Hawks would start off the 3rd period by killing off the remainder of the Kings’ Power Play, but the Kings would keep coming. Toffoli would narrowly miss scoring his second goal of the game, as his backhand would deflect off of the goal post. The Kings would go right back to the Power Play, at 2:58 of the 3rd period, as Michal Rozsival would be called for tripping. Once again the Hawks’ Penalty Kill would come through, as the Kings were once again unable to take advantage of the man-advantage.
The Hawks would get their 2nd Power Play of the game, at 7:18 of the 3rd, when Justin Williams would get called for elbowing. However, this time the Kings would put their best Penalty Killing foot forward and kill off the Hawks’ Power Play. Kings’ defenseman, Jake Muzzin would turn the puck over, which would lead to a 3-on-1 rush, for the Hawks, and Jonathan Toews would finally get his goal, that he was apparently destined to get, giving the Hawks a 3-1 lead, with 3:35 to go, in the 3rd period.
The Hawks would hold on to win the game, 3-1, and take a 1-0 lead, in the Western Conference Finals. It wasn’t always pretty, but great teams can win the ugly ones too.
Game 2 will be Wednesday night back at the United Center at 7pm.