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Kopecky steals show in game one, and what the Hawks need to win game two

Tomas Kopecky was aces in game one.
Tomas Kopecky was aces in game one.
(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

In December the Blackhawks took on the Sharks. Behind an impeccable goaltending performance by Evgeni Nabokov, the Sharks won the game, despite only putting 14 shots on net. After the game, Dan Boyle apologized for the team's performance in victory.

The Blackhawks now know how the Sharks felt on that night in December.

Chaos reigned supreme in the first game of the NHL's Stanley Cup Final. The Blackhawks and Flyers scored a total of 11 goals, with the Blackhawks coming out victorious 6-5 behind the play of Tomas Kopecky, Dave Bolland and Kris Versteeg.

Antti Niemi was victimized by a few ricochet goals early in the game, but recovered with 27 saves and a flawless third period to win the game.

Kopecky was not expected to be in the lineup on Friday, but with Andrew Ladd unable to play due to a shoulder injury, Kopecky slid into the left wing of the Bolland-led checking line.

Kopecky, who was a healthy scratch from the fourth-line for the entirety of the Western Conference Finals series against the Sharks, had a goal and an assist in his first game back in action.

Ladd will miss game two of the Stanley Cup Finals, meaning that Kopecky will again be in the lineup.

Despite the scoring frenzy, the Blackhawks' and Flyers' top lines were not part of the party. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien were held scoreless and were a collective minus-nine.

Brian Campbell only played 13 minutes in the game, while Brent Sopel logged nearly 20 game one minutes.

Dave Bolland scored a shorthanded goal for the Blackhawks, burning Philadelphia defenseman Braden Coburn (naming pun?), moving the Blackhawks record to 10-3-1 on the season when they score a shorthanded goal. (h/t The Committed Indian)

Three vitals for game two:

Brian Campbell might have had his worst outing of the season in game one. The Blackhawks need Campbell to open up play, especially through the neutral zone, and he's unable to contribute from the bench. Campbell was dastardly in his own zone in game one, and his benching was deserved. That puts the pressure solely on him to bounce-back in game two. I think he will and be an impact player for the Blackhawks.

Marian Hossa was great in game one, with two assists. He needs to keep doing what he has done against the Sharks and in game one: play strong defense and be a forechecking wizard. Whether the points come or not, if he can be an impact player on both ends of the ice, he'll erase his stigma because the Blackhawks will win.

Antti Niemi has been unflappable in the playoffs from game to game, never stringing together two sub-par performances in a row. Can he continue that solid trend, or have the Flyers figured him out? Either way, the Blackhawks need to be better defensively in front of him. I felt they played well defensively in the third period, when it counted, and they need to continue that play throughout game three.


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