Like the Philadelphia Flyers, the Chicago Blackhawks were able to win the first 2 games on the road as both teams have been playing a very fast, and up-and-down style of hockey as the Blackhawks are now up 2-0 after taking the first 2 games in San Jose by out speeding and out playing the Sharks.
A much better defense and more blocked shots kept the shot totals down as the shots were 27-22 in favor of San Jose (oppose to over 40 for both teams in Game 1).
Players like Andrew Ladd got back on the scoring sheet after scoring his 2nd goal of the playoffs. While Dustin Byfuglien is having a break-out playoff run with his 6th goal of the post-season who's doubled his goal output from his playoff run last year. And is starting to develop into a dangerous goal score and is not afraid to rough it up on the ice as well.
Jonathan Toews and Kris Verstegg also scored in the game. While Patrick Marleau scored twice in the loss as he increased this year's playoff goal total to 5.
Chicago is looking to use some home cooking to help them advance to the team's first Stanley Cup Final since 1992
From the National Hockey League Website: http://www.nhl.com/
Thorton Frustrations in Game 2: www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=529578
In San Jose, California: The Chicago Blackhawks had home Wednesday after nine days on the road. They might want to think about getting hotel rooms, ordering room service and using the visitors dressing room at the United Center.
If the hawks can find a way to maintain their road mentality in their own barn fro Games 3 and 4 against San Jose, the series could be over by Sunday Evening.
Chicago took another step toward advancing to the Stanley Cup Final on Tuesday at HP Pavilion with a 4-2 victory in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final. They grabbed a 2-0 series lead in the series with their seventh straight win on the road, which breaks an 18 year old club record and ties a playoff record for consecutive road victories.
The last team to reel off seven straight road wins in the playoffs was Colorado in 1999. Three others did it, too - 1980 and 1982 NY Islanders as well as the 1995 New Jersey Devils. All three of those teams won the Stanley Cup as well.
"It's an honor, something that we've worked hard as a team to get," said Blackhawks Dustin Byfuglien, who scored his sixth goal of the playoffs, proving anything he touches turns to gold right now. "We have to focus home now and be ready to go when we get back. It's definitely going to be nice to get back home and get in front of our fans, They're going to be very loud,"
They were loud inside the Shark Tank again Tuesday, and again the home team got off to a good start. But for the 2nd straight game, the Sharks couldn't capitalize of the good start - and eventually they waited under the Blackhawks relentless pressure.
It started with Andrew Ladd's goal 12:48 into the first period and continued in the 2nd when Byfuglien and Jonathan Towes scored 90 seconds apart to put the Hawks up 3-0 before the game was halfway over.
"Somehow we have to harness what we start with and continue on," Sharks coach Todd Mclellan. "We can't let little bumps in the road slow us down. I'm not sure it's about skating any faster. It's the puck movement. We don't continue to do what we started to do. We try and force it a little bit more. All of a sudden we look slower."
Ladd's wrist shot from beyond the top of the left faceoff circle went through Niclas Wallin and past goalie Evgeni Nabokov, who might have been screened by his own defensemen.
Traffic in front of Nabokov was the difference on both Byfuglien's and Toews goals. They scored on deflections of perimeter shots because they won battles for position near the blue paint.
Patrick Marleau got the Sharks on the board with a power play goal with 8:52 left in the 2nd, but Troy Brouwer extended the Blackhawks 6:18 into the third period when he went hard to the net and got a piece of Nicklas Hjalmarsson's blast from the left point.
"We'll take them anyway we can", said Toews, who now has points in 11 straight games and leads the NHL with 16 assists and 23 points. "Tonight we got a couple of ugly ones in front of the net. If we keep doing things right, we'll keep having success."
After combining for 85 shots in Game 1, a 2-1 Chicago victory, the Sharks and Hawks limit the offensive chances in Game 2 and combine for 49 shots.
However, Hawks goale Antti Niemi, who stopped 44 of 45 shots in Game 1 Sunday, was again solid with 25 saves - and the Blackhawks once again limited any timely offensive production from the Sharks big line of Marleau, Joe Thorton, and Dany Heatley.
Marleau had both goals, but his first was on the power-play when the Hawks already had a 3-0 lead and his second came at even strength with just 4:28 left to play in the 3rd period.
Heatley had only two shots on goal and now just two goals in his last 19 games. Thorton was a minus 2 and took a bad slashing penalty when he whacked David Bolland in the wrists before the official could drop the puck on an in zone faceoff for the Sharks.
"We're working hard, but we're not working hard enough," Sharks defensemen Dan Boyle said. "I don't know. I've got to watch the film. Obviously as a man, we've got to look in the mirror. Pretty sure we can and we'll all see our game needs to be elevated."
Byfuglien made it 2-0 because he won his patch on the ice from Sharks captain Rob Blake and tipped Patrick Kane's seemingly harmless shot from the top of the slot past Nabokov and deflected Duncan Keith's shot from the right point. Byfuglien was also in front of the net.
"We have two days here now to look at that," Mclellan said how the Sharks plan to handle the Blackhawks presence in front of Nabokov when the series resumes on Friday in Chicago. "We'll look at the video. We'll certainly sit with our defensive group and our goaltenders and make sure were still approaching it properly."
Even though he didn't have the last change, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville was able to get the matchup he wanted - Dave Bolland, Kris Versteeg and Ladd against Thorton, Marleau and Heatley - for good stretches.
There was also some extra curricular activity in the last minute of the game. Ryan Clowe, Heatly, Ladd and Brent Seabrook were all given matching roughing minors, but Clowe we also got a 10 minute misconduct for losing his cool.
San Jose had better find its composure in Chicago or the trip home could come quickly.
"I expect them to respond. "It's as simple as that," Mccellan said. "Throughout this playoff we've built character. This gives us an opportunity now to add that. We've always boasted about our leadership in the locker room. We'll need that now."
Chicago Blackhawks Lead the Series 2-0.
Chicago Blackhawks 4 San Jose Sharks 2 (1-0, 2-1, 1-1)
Game Center: www.nhl.com/ice/boxscore.htm?id=2009030322
1-0 CHI: Andrew Ladd (Keith, Versteeg) 12:48 1st
2-0 CHI: Dustin Byfuglien (Kane, Toews) 6:59 2nd
3-0 CHI: Jonathan Toews (PP) (Keith, Kane) 8:29 2nd
3-1 SJS: Patrick Marleau (PP) (Thorton, Boyle) 11:08 2nd
4-1 CHI: Troy Brouwer (Hjalmarsson, Hossa) 6:18 3rd
4-2 SJS: Patrick Marleau (Heatley, Boyle) 15:32 3rd
Game 1: Chicago Blackhawks 2 San Jose Sharks 1 (0-1, 1-0, 1-0)
Game 2: Chicago Blackhawks 4 San Jose Sharks 2 (1-0, 2-1, 1-1)
Game 3, 5/21: San Jose Sharks VS. Chicago Blackhawks 7:00 PM CDT
Game 4, 5/23: San Jose Sharks VS. Chicago Blackhawks 2:00 PM CDT
Game 5, 5/25: Chicago Blackhawks VS. San Jose Sharks 8:00 PM CDT*
Game 6, 5/27: San Jose Sharks VS. Chicago Blackhawks 7:00 PM CDT*
Game 7, 5/29: Chicago Blackhawks VS. San Jose Sharks 7:00 PM CDT*
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