CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks peppered Jonathan Quick with shots in the first period Saturday, but many of them were from the perimeter and the Los Angeles Kings' goaltender had little trouble with any of them.
Chicago’s advantage in shots on goal dwindled in the second period of Game 1 of the Western Conference Final, but the quality of the Blackhawks’ scoring chances improved. Not coincidentally, the Blackhawks scored twice to take control of a game they were dominating everywhere but the scoreboard.
After Chicago's series-opening 2-1 victory, a couple of Blackhawks’ players said nothing changed about the way they were attacking, but Kings center Jarrett Stoll had a pretty good idea of what changed.
“Turnovers,” Stoll said. “The second period there was a lot of choppy play in the neutral zone, hacking and whacking at pucks. They came up and put a lot of those pucks in, got them behind our defense, and therefore they scored a couple of goals off of it. Also we were playing more D zone than we wanted to. We've gotta get pucks in. We've gotta get our forecheck going, get our speed, big, heavy, physical game going.”
After piling up 17 shots on net in the first 20 minutes, a pattern developed with Chicago’s first seven attempts on goal in the second before the Blackhawks finally broke through. The team’s top line of Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell was particularly good at creating turnovers and chances -- one of which turned into the game-winning goal.
Here is a shot-by-shot look at how the Blackhawks turned around Game 1 in the second period:
3:29 -- Chicago defenseman Michal Rozsival stopped a clearing attempt along the boards. After a failed attempt by Michal Handzus, the puck came to Patrick Sharp, who faked a shot and hit Patrick Kane with a cross-ice pass inside the right circle for Kane’s second great look of the game. Quick made the save.
4:03 -- Hossa forced a turnover behind the Los Angeles net, and Bickell gloved down the puck just to the left of Quick for a shot in close that the goaltender also stopped.
4:10 -- Hossa raced to the left wall to intercept a soft pass along the boards, and hit Bickell for a one-timer in the slot that forced Quick to make another good save.
6:52 -- A long Chicago pass changed directions in the neutral zone and led to a relatively harmless wrist shot from the right wing by Sharp.
7:53 -- Hossa knocked down a Kings’ pass in the neutral zone and got the puck to Toews to start another possession. Hossa pressured Jeff Carter, and Brandon Saad got a piece of Carter’s pass around the boards. The puck came to L.A.'s Mike Richards, but Toews intercepted his backhanded pass and ended up with a shot from the left circle.
10:05 -- An outlet pass hopped over Dustin Brown’s stick; he then controlled it briefly before being stood up the Chicago blue line. The Blackhawks went the other way, and after Marcus Kruger’s attempt from the right circle was blocked, Dave Bolland corralled the loose puck and snapped a quick shot off Quick from a bad angle.
10:50 -- Bickell won a battle along the boards as the third guy in and got the puck to the right point. Brent Seabrook sent it to his defense partner Duncan Keith, who ended up with a one-timer from the left circle after a fabulous give-and-go with Hossa, who backhanded a saucer pass over two Kings’ sticks. Quick made a great glove save in traffic.
12:27/12:29 GOAL -- Handzus started a rush by intercepting a Kyle Clifford chip toward the left corner in the Chicago end and hitting Sharp with a diagonal outlet pass. Sharp carried the puck into the zone, dropped it for defenseman Johnny Oduya and went to the net. Oduya’s shot hit Quick in the left leg pad, and Sharp was able to fire the rebound past the goaltender and into the net to tie the game 1-1.
“You’re shooting to try and get an opportunity, right?” Seabrook said. “At the end of the day, I’m sure [Oduya] will tell you he [was aiming for the far pad], and he probably was. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. I think it was just a great shot.”
Sharp added, “That's something that every team works on in practice, shoot off that pad and go into the net for the rebound. I was fortunate it came right to me.”
13:08 -- Keith ended up with a wrist shot from near the top of the zone on the power play 21 seconds after a faceoff in part because the Kings were unable to clear the puck despite controlling it cleanly twice.
13:28 -- Keith ripped a one-timer from the top of the left circle after the Kings won the faceoff but again weren’t able to get it out. Seabrook chased down the clearing attempt along the wall near the left point and helped the Blackhawks get set up again.
16:16 -- Bickell started a transition the other way by intercepting the puck in the high slot in his own zone. The puck ended up below the Los Angeles goal line and Toews was able to poke it behind the net to Hossa, who tried to stuff it past Quick near the right post.
16:22 GOAL -- Bickell came crashing past the crease, taking the puck behind the net after Hossa’s try. He backhanded a pass off the left boards to the left point for Keith, who was able to walk it towards the middle of the ice and fire. Hossa tipped his shot in the slot past Quick for a 2-1 lead.
“He's one of the fastest goalies in the League, if not the fastest,” Hossa said of last year's Conn Smythe Trophy winner. “Whatever he sees, he's going to stop it. You have to have traffic in front of him, pin him in the blue paint, and put lots of pucks in the corners or in his feet and go for the second chances.”
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