The Chicago Blackhawks continued their campaign to defend their Stanley Cup championship with a 3-1 win on Sunday over the Los Angeles Kings. An early power play goal and a second period assist from Brandon Saad fueled the Blackhawks to a hard-fought Game 1 victory.
The red-hot Blackhawks have won nine of their last 11 playoff games and are still undefeated at home during the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs. Saad’s power play goal is the seventh of Chicago’s postseason run while they are 44-for-48 on the penalty kill.
Ahead 1-0 in the second period, Jonathan Toews spearheaded a fast break that ultimately found the puck in the back of the net. Toews flew over Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick as the puck deflected off of a L.A. defender’s skate and crept into the goal. The officials got word from Toronto and ruled it a no goal for goaltender interference, resulting in waves of expletives from Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville. Moments later, the Kings equalized via a one-timer from Tyler Toffoli right in front of the Chicago net.
With a little over eight minutes left in the second period, the Blackhawks scored the go-ahead goal which would eventually be the game winner. Towards the right of the L.A. goal right above the red line, Saad played the puck cross ice to Duncan Keith, who took a touch before firing a slap shot that took a deflection of Kings’ forward Trevor Lewis. The bouncing puck wobbled right above Quick’s glove and into the back of the net. Chicago was up 2-1 and didn’t look back.
Toews added an insurance goal from a 3-on-1 break with less than four minutes remaining in Game 1. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford was near flawless saving 25 of the 26 shots he faced. An overlooked statistic that was crucial to Chicago’s victory was discipline. The Blackhawks committed only two penalties and blocked a total of 26 L.A. Kings shots.
The Chicago Blackhawks take Game 1, but the series is far from over. The Kings have stretched each of their previous two playoff series to seven games, emerging victorious each time. The puck drops Wednesday night on NBCSN for Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.