Blackhawks accomplished what they wanted in Game 1
BY RICK MORRISSEY Sports Columnist May 18, 2014 7:54PM
Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, right, blocks a shot by Los Angeles Kings' Tyler Toffoli (73) during the third period of Game 1 of the Western Conference finals in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs in Chicago on Sunday, May 18, 2014. The Blackhawks won 3-1. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) ORG XMIT: OTKNH109
Blackhawks 3, KINGS 1
Los Angeles 0 1 0 — 1
BLACKHAWKS 1 1 1 — 3
First Period—1, HAWKS, Saad 3 (Leddy, Hossa), 14:46 (pp). Penalties—Martinez, LA (roughing), 12:48.
Second Period—2, Los Angeles, Toffoli 4 (Pearson, Carter), 4:35. 3, HAWKS, Keith 3 (Saad, Kruger), 11:54. Penalties—Hjalmarsson, HAWKS (hooking), 18:57.
Third Period—4, HAWKS, Toews 6 (Oduya, Hossa), 16:10. Penalties—Rozsival, HAWKS (tripping), 2:58; Williams, LA (elbowing), 7:18.
Shots on Goal—Los Angeles 5-17-4—26. HAWKS 7-6-7—20.
Power-play opportunities—Los Angeles 0 of 2; HAWKS 1 of 2.
Goalies—Los Angeles, Quick 8-7-0 (20 shots-17 saves). HAWKS, Crawford 9-4-0 (26-25).
Referees—Marc Joannette, Kevin Pollock. Linesmen—Scott Driscoll, Steve Miller.
A—21,832 (19,717). T—2:33.
Updated: June 23, 2014 1:24PM
The Blackhawks couldn’t have asked for anything more out of Game 1 of the Western Conference final.
OK, they could have asked for Andrew Shaw’s immediate return to good health, for Jonathan Toews’ waved-off goal to be reinstated or for peace to blanket the earth.
And maybe they did request all those things and got skunked. But what they received Sunday, a 3-1 victory against the Los Angeles Kings in the first game of their best-of-seven series, was more than enough. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t like an ultramarathon, either. They weathered a few storms and didn’t need federal-disaster assistance. Nobody got hurt. There were no existential crises involving Hawks fans and goalie Corey Crawford.
It was a good, solid effort that should calm a local populace that might have lost its strut during a difficult series against the Minnesota Wild.
This figures to be the Hawks’ kind of series, an up-and-down-the-ice affair, heavy on skating and skill. Not a lot of trapping and clawing. In other words, it should be much better than watching the Wild play hockey or watching snow melt, which might be redundant.
‘‘It’s nice to have a little space,’’ Hawks winger Bryan Bickell said. ‘‘It was getting mentally frustrating in that Minnesota series. [The Kings] kind of have a different style, kind of like what we kind of bring with our speed.’’
Artistry against artistry.
‘‘The more we can make them worry about us, I think the better situation we’ll be in,’’ said Toews, who scored a third-period goal.
It was Toews’ second-period goal, the one that wasn’t, that turned out to be a major storyline, even though it didn’t matter much in the long run. He had charged the net, made contact with Kings goalie Jonathan Quick and never saw the puck slide into the net. Officials initially ruled it a goal. But after an on-ice discussion, they said Toews made incidental contact with Quick before the puck crossed the line and disallowed the goal. Boos took over the United Center.
If I might sum up: The officials got the call right, albeit not immediately, and the on-ice consultation and resulting confusion made it look like a major case of butt-saving in progress.
Was it the right call?
‘‘No comment,’’ Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said, his lips pursed in full no-fine mode.
The Kings came back about a minute later and tied the score on a goal by Tyler Toffoli. A lesser team than the Hawks might have given in to emotion there. A collapse wouldn’t have been out of the question. Bickell allowed that the Hawks did lose focus for ‘‘maybe a slight second’’ but were not fazed.
Give the Hawks credit for holding up or, as Toews put it, ‘‘forgetting.’’ They were outshot 17-6 in the second period but headed to the locker room with a 2-1 lead, thanks to a blistering slap shot from just inside the blue line by Duncan Keith.
It’s good to have self-induced memory loss in sports.
The Hawks are showing off their ability to play all kinds of styles and win. Brandon Saad might be one of the best skaters on the team, but he was camped in front of the Kings’ net and deflected in a shot by Nick Leddy in the first period. That’s normally Shaw’s game. But he’s out with what appears to be a knee injury, and Saad filled the role admirably Sunday. The Hawks’ message? Any way you want to play, we’ll play.
The St. Louis Blues were fast and rough. The Wild were like a bad dream in slow motion. The Kings want rushes, just like the Hawks do.
Game 2 on Wednesday figures to be a more difficult challenge. The Kings were coming off a Game 7 victory Friday against the Anaheim Ducks, and they might have been dealing with fatigue.
‘‘That first period was a good opportunity to get all over them, and I think we did,’’ Bickell said. ‘‘I think it kind of carried us through the game.’’
It couldn’t have gone much better for the Hawks, but don’t expect them to get lulled into a false sense of security. They didn’t win two Stanley Cups in four seasons by resting on their laurels. They still seem to have a healthy appetite for more.
‘‘We did a lot of things right, but we’re going to have to be better in a few different areas, as well,’’ Keith said. ‘‘L.A. has a really good team.’’
True, but the Kings are going to have to be much better.