The Chicago Blackhawks had four days off to prepare for Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals and needed all of it to hold back the Los Angeles Kings 3-1 at United Center.
Duncan Keith’s goal at 11:54 of the second period proved to be the game-winner and the Blackhawks grabbed a 1-0 series lead at home. Keith’s slap shot from the blue line hit off the stick of Kings forward Trevor Lewis and took a wicked bounce to help propel the puck past Jonathan Quick to make it 2-1.
It wasn’t all easy for the Blackhawks as they had to withstand a push from the Kings in the second period that saw them outshoot Chicago 17-6. Overall in the game, Corey Crawford was outstanding as he made 25 saves to earn the win. It was the third straight game Crawford has only allowed one goal.
Chicago jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first period when Brandon Saad scored on a deflection on the power play. Saad tipped Nick Leddy’s shot past Quick to get the Blackhawks off on the right foot.
The Blackhawks thought they had a 2-0 lead early in the second period when Jonathan Toews slipped the puck past Quick, but the goal was disallowed after the officials discussed Toews running into Quick on the play. The Kings capitalized on the no-goal call and Tyler Toffoli made it 1-1 just 1:13 later.
Toews wouldn’t be denied, however, as he scored with 3:50 left in the third to give the Blackhawks a 3-1 lead. The win was Chicago’s seventh straight home victory in the playoffs.
Now that you’ve watched all those videos, here are the full highlights from Game 1:
Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.
Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.
“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.
The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.
Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.
There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.
The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.
That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.
In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.
Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.