The Chicago Blackhawks drew first blood in the Western Conference finals on Sunday afternoon, defeating the Los Angeles Kings 3-1 in the series opener at the United Center in Chicago.
The Blackhawks, who were playing their first game since eliminating the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night, jumped out to a first-period lead on Brandon Saad’s third goal of the playoffs, a power-play marker on a deflection of a Nick Leddy drive that beat Jonathan Quick.
Chicago seemed to have opened up a two-goal advantage early in the second, but Jonathan Toews’ goal was disallowed after the referees ruled that incidental contact—he went sprawling over Quick in the crease—denied Quick a chance to make the save prior to the puck crossing the line.
The tables turned quickly, with Tyler Toffoli getting the Kings even just 73 seconds later, much to the consternation of the home crowd.
Los Angeles dominated the play in the second—outshooting the Blackhawks 17-6 in the period—but a bad bounce, actually a couple of them, would prove its undoing.
Duncan Keith netted the game-winning goal, off a Kings turnover in the neutral zone, beating Quick on a couple of odd deflections off Los Angeles’ sticks to retake the lead.
Toews got his goal back in the closing minutes of the third, ripping a shot into the back of the net off absolutely beautiful feeds from Johnny Oduya and Marian Hossa on a 3-on-1 Blackhawks’ break to ice the game.
Corey Crawford was solid in net for Chicago, stopping 25 of the 26 shots he faced in the victory.
The Western Conference finals will resume on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. at the United Center in Chicago.