We’ll be out of the 70s after this post. Hooray!
We continue on the path to the most memorable Chicago Blackhawks playoff victory under coach Joel Quenneville. In his nearly-seven-season tenure with the team, the Blackhawks have secured 73 postseason wins. Which is quite a few, as you’ll begin to see the longer this countdown goes on for.
Today, we’ll take a look at the 70th-most-memorable playoff win under Q, as voted by me. So far, only two opponents have been featured in this series, and I’m sorry to say that will continue through this post …
Note: Check out the previous entries in this series at the end of this post.
No. 70: 2013 Western Conference finals, Game 1
Chicago Blackhawks 2, Los Angeles Kings 1
At the beginning of the above highlight package, the play-by-play announcer notes the Blackhawks and Kings averaged a combined seven goals per game in their 2013 regular-season meetings. That would not be the case in this game, the opener between the teams in their first of what would be two consecutive conference finals matchups.
It really is unfortunate this series ended so quickly. Well … maybe not, since the Blackhawks rolled by the Kings and on to a Stanley Cup. But watching these two teams play against one another is typically fun. This game was enjoyable to watch, though there was no shining moment to help fans remember it long term. Both teams were coming off a conference semifinal series that went the distance, but you couldn’t tell the Blackhawks had been through seven games with Detroit at the start of this contest against Los Angeles, which had played seven games against San Jose.
The Blackhawks blitzed goaltender Jonathan Quick and the rest of the Kings in the opening frame here, keeping L.A. shotless until the 8:11 mark of the period. Chicago had plenty of chances before that, but none that caused Quick to make many spectacular saves. He was forced to make a big couple stops right after the Kings’ first shot on goal when Patrick Sharp let loose a bomb from the point and Brandon Saad attempted to stuff a rebound home. No dice.
Da Windy City
There’s also a Chicago powerplay in this highlight package where Nick Leddy is quarterbacking a unit featuring Sharp, Saad and Patrick Kane. Please excuse me while I cry profusely at what could have been.
Anyway, as happens to the Blackhawks from time to time, their possession dominance didn’t immediately show up on the scoreboard. In fact, the Kings struck first when consistently-homeless-looking Justin Williams batted a puck off Dave Bolland‘s stick and past Corey Crawford after Crawford struggled to play the puck behind his cage. Thankfully, it was the only goal L.A. would score on the night, but it did put the Kings up with about five minutes to go in the first.
We also got a reminder Viktor Stalberg was part of this team late in the first period when he more or less threw a Kings player into the end boards. Stalberg was added by the New York Rangers this offseason and will hopefully end up playing alongside Rick Nash at some point, because it’d just be really funny to see Alain Vigneault try that.
Back to this game. The Blackhawks and Kings would trade scoring chances through the end of the first period and most of the second before Sharp took the puck out of his defensive zone, through the neutral zone and left it for Johnny Oduya just over the offensive-zone blue line. Oduya wired a shot toward Quick’s pads, which provided a rebound for a streaking Sharp to put home, tying the game at one with about 7:30 to go in the second. Sharp really was a puck magnet in this game.
The Blackhawks ramped up their offensive intensity from there, and it resulted in what turned out to be the game-winning goal about four minutes later. Bryan Bickell skated through two Kings to grab the puck behind Quick, feeding it to Duncan Keith at the point. Keith was given all day to wind up a shot, and Hossa was able to tip the puck past Quick while providing a screen.
Strong goaltending and all-around defense by the Blackhawks in the third period put this one away and gave Chicago a 1-0 edge in the series. There will be plenty more to come from this series, as the Blackhawks won three more games in it en route to the 2013 Cup. But this outing falls shortest of the four on the memorability scale.
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