High-intensity game goes to Blackhawks in Western Conference Final's Game 1
The Western Conference Finals this year feels very much like déja-vu - a rematch from 2013’s WCF, with the Blackhawks facing the Los Angeles Kings once more. The Kings have dispatched the Anaheim Ducks in 7 games in their second round, while the Blackhawks went through a difficult round against the Minnesota Wild, which they finished in 6 games. And now the match-up to the Stanley Cup Final is the same as last year, where the Blackhawks won in 5.
There is no question that both teams have excelled during the regular season, as well as the post-season. They’re both on top of the League in terms of puck possession, and while the Hawks are one of the most offensive-minded teams, the Kings are possibly the best defensive-minded team, which makes for a very interesting matchup.
The Blackhawks would be the ones to open up the scoring, on the first powerplay of the game - 2 seconds to go on the PP, and Brandon Saad would deflect a Nick Leddy shot in past goaltender Jonathan Quick. Despite a high-intensity period, this would be the only goal of the frame, 14:46 minutes in.
A disallowed goal for Jonathan Toews in the second frame kept the Kings only one goal away from the Blackhawks’ lead, and gave them the momentum to tie the game, on a goal from Tyler Toffoli, one of the Kings rookies.
The Blackhawks seemed to lose their confidence for a short while after the Kings tie-in goal, but D-man Duncan Keith would get them back in the lead, 12 minutes into the second period, on a bouncy shot from the blueline that would go past Quick’s left shoulder and into the net.
The period ended on a Kings powerplay, allowing them to start the third frame with a minute with the man advantage. However, through this penalty and the next they’ll draw in the third, the Kings were unable to score. The Hawks would also get a powerplay opportunity, but would be unable to capitalise on it.
The third period would be full of physicality and still very high-intensity, with stellar defense on both sides, but it’d be the Hawks that sealed it, with captain Jonathan Toews getting a goal on a three-on-one against D-man Drew Doughty, helped by Marian Hossa and Johnny Oduya. After the 2nd period disallowed goal, the Hawks captain was hungry for another chance.
Despite pulling Quick 2 minutes before the end of the game, the Kings would be unable to retaliate. They were outshooting the Blackhawks all through the game, but thanks to great work from goaltender Corey Crawford and great defense, the Blackhawks took Game 1 of the Western Conference Final.
Game 2 will be on Wednesday May 21st at 7.00pm ET, and can be seen on TSN, NBCSN, and RDS.