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:
People love star athletes because they can do amazing things. Even so, people also often love to see the occasional moment of weakness.
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Not many people expected the Capitals-Penguins series to be over in five games, but there’s a chance that could happen before the end of the week. After their 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, the Capitals are one loss away from being bounced from the 2016 playoffs.
The Capitals failed to take advantage of the fact that Kris Letang was suspended for Game 4 because of his hit on Marcus Johansson in Game 3. Letang is now set to return for Game 5 which makes Washington’s task even more difficult.
“We didn’t take advantage of it,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said, per NHL.com. “One thing I said to the guys coming into this, and we talked it about it yesterday, was when Kris got his suspension, is that they’re going to rally. Their whole team, their forwards are going to come back. They talked about they didn’t play their best game (in Game 3) and now they have Letang out and everybody had to step up on their side, and I thought they did.”
If you look back at the regular season, the Capitals were head and shoulders above the rest of the Eastern Conference and the league for a good portion of the season. Washington finished 11 points ahead of second place Dallas in the league standings and it looked like they had the team that would finally take them over the hump.
Although things look gloomy, it’s important to realize that the series is far from over. Many NHLers would tell you that the fourth win is always the hardest to come by in a best-of-seven series, and by no means is anyone expecting the Capitals to wave the white flag.
“Whenever you lose a game, it’s obviously an opportunity missed, but it had nothing to do with them missing some of their players,” said Caps forward Jay Beagle, per NHL.com. “We’re looking forward. Our back’s against the wall and the most important game of our lives is coming up.”
Game 5 goes Saturday night in Washington.
PHT Morning Skate: Shane Doan takes a (friendly) shot at the Miracle on Ice