The 2014 Western Conference finals have been rough at times on Jonathan Quick and Corey Crawford. The Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings didn’t make life easier for those two struggling netminders in the first period of Game 7.
The Blackhawks rushed out to a 2-0 lead, with Patrick Kane collecting two more assists to continue his absolutely ridiculous run since Chicago has been on the brink of elimination. Here’s his assist on Brandon Saad’s fourth goal of this series.
Jeff Carter’s outstanding feat of hand-eye coordination made it 2-1 with about three and half minutes left in the first period, which is when this game shifted from “hectic” to “flat-out wacky.”
Here’s video of all five goals from that wild first period:
Consider the stream of goals beginning with Carter’s tally, when he avoided the crossbar:
Carter scores his ninth goal of the playoffs at 16:31 of the first period.
Justin Williams (pictured) redeems his first period penalty (which led to the Toews goal) with another Game 7 goal at the 17:22 mark of the opening frame. Williams’ 13 points in Game 7’s now ties Doug Gilmour for the NHL record while his his seven goals ties Glenn Anderson.
That tie only lasted 11 seconds for the Kings, however, as Patrick Sharp gave the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead at the 17:34 mark.
Like Saad’s goal, Sharp’s tally came from an angle that might leave Quick soul-searching for some time. (Video coming soon.)
To review, the two teams scored two goals in 11 seconds and three in one minute and 13 seconds (give or take). Kane has been involved in nine of the Blackhawks’ last 12 goals, which is all that much more amazing being that the stakes are so high.
It’s tough to imagine these two teams topping that opening 20 minutes, but considering the level of play between the Kings and Blackhawks, do you really feel safe doubting them?
If you think the Dallas Stars are struggling because of defense more than anything else, then you’ll make sure to keep the video above “on file.”
There Kari Lehtonen was, helpless on a 2-on-0 rush for the Calgary Flames, which Johnny Gaudreau finished with calm and ease. For some, that goal is the symbol of the Stars’ season.
Either way, it was a painful goal in the Flames’ 2-1 win against the Stars. Calgary won despite Dallas firing 30 shots on goal versus the Flames’ 20.
One team climbing, the other stumbling
With that, the Flames are now on a four-game winning streak. Since falling to 5-10-1 on Nov. 12, the Flames have gone 9-3-1 in their last 13 games, pushing them to 14-13-2 overall. Gaudreau coming back is the icing on the cake after Chad Johnson really took charge of the Flames’ top job.
During a similar span, the Stars can’t seem to get it together. Dallas stood at 6-6-3 after beating the Oilers 3-2 on Nov. 11. They’re now 10-11-6, essentially standing in place as a .500 team.
Dallas can’t seem to get momentum going, a thought that might have left them envious of the team on the other end of the ice on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, it wasn’t just about Jack Eichel vs. Connor McDavid. Instead, it was a clash between a fleet of young scorers who were in their prime, with the Buffalo Sabres coming up on top against the Edmonton Oilers.