Though it may sound a little awkward at this time, we’re going to talk about some fun Chicago Blackhawks history involving Patrick Kane. Everyone who is part of a Stanley-Cup-playoff-qualifying team for the first time starts with zero career NHL playoff points — no matter how much hype surrounds a player or how much skill he has. Such was the case for Kane in 2009, which featured his (and several others Blackhawks’) first trip to the big-league postseason.
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Believe it or not, Kane’s first career playoff point didn’t come in his first career playoff game. It came in his second. Such a slacker. In that same game came the first career playoff goal of captain Jonathan Toews. So this was really a landmark occasion for the squad’s two cornerstone players. And that occasion is the next entry on our countdown of most memorable Blackhawks playoff victories under coach Joel Quenneville.
Note: Check out the previous entries in this series at the end of this post.
No. 39: 2009 Western Conference first round, Game 2
Chicago Blackhawks 3, Calgary Flames 2
We’re not going to have any video screenshots accompanying this post, as it appears someone working for NHL’s digital media team decided to put together this highlight package using a video camera in front of his or her TV. So I’m sorry about that in advance.
Though this one turned out well for the Blackhawks, both from winning and historical standpoints, it was all Calgary at the start. The Flames were coming off an overtime loss in Game 1 and wanted to make a statement in the second game at the United Center.
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Unfortunately, the guy who tried to make an impact first for the Flames was noted sucker-puncher Todd Bertuzzi. He stole the puck from the Blackhawks defense right at the circles in front of Nikolai Khabibulin and tried to wait out the goaltender. Khabibulin wasn’t having that, as he stoned first Bertuzzi and then Mike Cammalleri with pad saves while on his stomach. Two impressive stops, to be sure.
They’d loom especially large considering what went on in the rest of the opening 20 minutes. Calgary would receive a powerplay about 7:30 in on a Ben Eager high-sticking call, and the Flames quickly cashed in when Jarome Iginla banged home a rebound off a shot from Dion Phaneuf at the point. Then, with less than five minutes to go in the first, an awkward play resulted in a 2-0 Calgary lead. With the puck bouncing around below the circles in front of Khabibulin, Adrian Aucoin picked it up about even with the goal crease and fired it toward that area, hoping for someone or something to knock it in. He got his wish, as Brent Seabrook accidentally tapped it home while trying to keep it from the net.
So the Blackhawks were down 2-0 less than 20 minutes in. But you can never count out this team, as we’ve learned over time.
They quickly got started chipping away at their deficit once the second period opened. On a carry-over powerplay as a result of a Jordan Leopold penalty late in the first, Toews set up a great passing play that would lead to him beating Miikka Kiprusoff. Toews held the puck along the board to Kiprusoff’s left and passed to Cam Barker at the point. Barker sent it over to Patrick Sharp in the other direction. Then Sharp made a wonderful cross-ice pass back to Toews, who had a mostly-empty net to shoot at while Kiprusoff attempted to move side to side. Toews converted on the man-advantage for his first career postseason goal, and the Blackhawks were back within one.
More smart passing created the next Chicago goal about 14 minutes into the middle frame. Brian Campbell won a board battle and chipped the puck past Jim Vandermeer to create a 2-on-1 featuring Kane and Sharp, with only Cory Sarich back on Kane. Though Vandermeer tried his best to get back and cover Sharp, Kane’s subsequent pass was right on the money to his fellow forward, who tipped it past Kiprusoff to knot the game at 2.
The Blackhawks wouldn’t wait long to get the only other goal they’d need. With less than a minute to go in the second, Seabrook started a pretty simple play with a stretch pass to Dave Bolland, from one blue line to another. Bolland wired a shot on net, which Kiprusoff turned away, but Toews had beaten everyone to the area where a potential rebound could pop out, and that’s exactly what happened. Before Kiprusoff even knew it, Toews had found the back of the net and put Chicago up 3-2.
The celebration for this goal was pretty comical, as Toews sort of falls down in front of a ref along the boards, after which the other four Blackhawks on the ice all crowded around Toews … and pretty much trapped the ref against the boards. They must’ve thought he looked lonely.
Khabibulin had to make a pretty big stop on Olli Jokinen very early in the third period, as Jokinen took a rebound off a point shot and tried to drag it around the Russian netminder. But Khabibulin moved side to side with ease and padded away Jokinen’s bid.
Kiprusoff needed to be on his best about two minutes later when Andrew Ladd received two chances in tight after breaking through Calgary’s defense. The Flames goaltender was also up to the task.
Jokinen created another chance still early in the period, carrying the puck into Calgary’s offensive zone and hitting Aucoin, who put a backhander on Khabibulin. Rene Borque would track the rebound and try repeatedly to hammer it through Khabibulin’s pad, which was tight against the left post. But again, Khabibulin held firm.
Jokinen and Iginla combined for one more good opportunity with less than two minutes to go, but that was essentially all she wrote for Calgary in this one, as the Blackhawks squeezed out a 3-2 win.
Toews has gone on to score 37 more playoff goals since the two he tallied in this game, and he has 102 career playoff points. Though Kane was still searching for his first postseason goal after this game, the point he tallied in this win marked the first of 114 so far in his NHL career. Both are insanely impressive statistics and large reasons why the Blackhawks have secured three Stanley Cups in the last six seasons.
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