Los Angeles give up early lead to fall behind in best-of-seven conference final.
Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa netted second-period goals to give the Chicago Blackhawks a 2-1 victory over the defending champion Los Angeles Kings in their NHL playoff series opener.
The Blackhawks will try to stretch their lead to 2-0 in the best-of-seven Western Conference final in game two with the winner will face either the Pittsburgh Penguins or Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals.
The Bruins opened the Eastern Conference finals with a 3-0 victory over the Penguins in Pittsburgh.
“It’s going to be a long one, but getting that first win is big for us,” said Chicago’s Sharp, a Canadian left wing.
Justin Williams, a Canadian right wing, gave the Kings the lead by opening the scoring with 5:37 remaining in the first period.
“We had a tough bounce on the first one, but we didn’t let it bother us,” Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford said. “We kept playing hard and finally capitalized.
“It was pretty tough. You have to stay in the game mentally and be ready for the next shot.”
Sharp answered 12:29 into the second period off a rebound to pull the hosts even with his eighth goal of the playoffs.
Hossa, a 34-year-old Slovakian left wing, scored the game winner just 3:53 later, and Canadian Crawford defied the Kings the rest of the way, making a total of 21 saves in the game.
“Tough game. It was what we expected,” Sharp said. “They made it hard to get to the net. They made it hard to get scoring chances.”
The Kings, who have not faced Chicago in the playoffs since 1974, fell to 1-6 in road games in this year’s playoffs. They were 10-1 away from home last year in their run to the title.
Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick made 34 saves in a losing cause.
In Pittsburgh, Boston goalie Tuukka Rask stopped all 29 shots he faced for his first career playoff shutout, while David Krejci notched a pair of goals for the Bruins.
Nathan Horton added a goal and the primary assist on Krejci’s brace as the Bruins produced their first post-season shutout on the road since a 4-0 triumph in game seven of the Stanley Cup finals at Vancouver two seasons ago.
Tomas Vokoun suffered the defeat despite making 27 saves for Pittsburgh, who will try to bounce back and even the series when they host game two on Monday.
Boston took a 2-0 lead four minutes into the third period, when Krejci’s shot from the right deflected off Vokoun’s glove, and he beat a Pittsburgh defender to slot his own rebound into the net.
The Bruins gained a three-goal at 7:15 of the third when Horton fired home a Gregory Campbell rebound from a sharp angle on the left wing.
Seconds later, Rask dived right to deny Penguins star Sidney Crosby.
Krejci had given Boston the lead 8:23 into the first period when his drive from between the circles off a pass from Horton found its way between Vokoun’s pads.