Chicago and Boston open their respective Conference Finals with victories. Scott Cullen has stats and notes from Saturday's night's NHL action.
BLACKHAWKS OPEN WITH WIN OVER KINGS
The Chicago Blackhawks opened Game One of the Western Conference Final by outshooting the Los Angeles Kings 17-2 in the first period, only to trail 1-0, when a puck misplayed by G Corey Crawford and C Dave Bolland ended up in the Chicago net, courtesy of Justin Williams.
The Blackhawks got goals, less than five minutes apart in the second period, from Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa.
Sharp, who scored six goals in 28 regular season games, leads all playoff goal-scorers with eight in 13 postseason games.
Blackhawks LW Bryan Bickell and D Duncan Keith led the Blackhawks with five shots on goal and Bickell tied D Brent Seabrook for a team-leading six hits. On top of that, Bickell also had terrific possession numbers. Drew Doughty, Robyn Regehr, Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown were the Kings on the wrong end of the possession game.
Brown, the Kings' captain, recorded a game-high eight hits, including a crushing hit on Jonathan Toews in the final minute, but had no shots on goal. Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and Kopitar combined for three shots on goal.
Of note, with the Kings pressing for the tying goal under a couple of minutes remaining, Chicago's Dave Bolland flattened the Kings' Mike Richards behind the Chicago net. It was a heavy hit and, whether it results in supplemental discipline or not, Richards was moving pretty slowly after he got up.
It bears watching whether Richards or Toews have any lasting effects from those big hits.
The Kings have been bailed out by Jonathan Quick in the playoffs thus far and he did his part Saturday, stopping 34 of 36 shots, but once again Los Angeles was on the wrong end territorially. It was the fifth time in 14 playoff games overall (fourth time in seven road games) that the Kings have been outshot by double digits. During the regular season, the Kings outshot their opposition by 4.8 shots per game. In the playoffs, they have a shot deficit of 5.3 shots per game. That's leaving Quick very little margin for error.
By comparison, Chicago outshot opponents by 4.9 shots per game during the regular seson and they've upped the margin in the playoffs, outshooting opponents by 6.4 shots per game. So long as Corey Crawford continues to play well (1.39 GAA, .950 SV% in last four games), the Blackhawks are on top of their game.
KREJCI, RASK LEAD BRUINS
The Boston Bruins withstood early pressure from the home team Pittsburgh Penguins, then were led by a pair of goals from David Krejci and a 29-save shutout from Tuukka Rask on their way to 3-0 Game One road win.
David Krejci, who leads the playoffs with 19 points, recorded a game-high seven shots on goal. It's not easy for a player to raise their scoring average in the playoffs, what with better opposition and tighter checking, but Krecji has 0.73 points per game during the regular season in his NHL career. After Saturday, Krejci has 0.92 points per game (66 PTS, 72 GP) in his playoff career.
It wasn't only Krejci leading the offence. RW Nathan Horton had a goal and two assists and a plus-3 rating, giving him 15 points and a playoff-leading plus-17 in 13 games. He had 22 points and was plus-1 in 43 games during the regular season.
Remarkably, Rask's playoff save percentage, after the shutout, is .933, which still ranks fourth among the starting goaltender left in the playoffs.
Boston won two-thirds of the faceoffs, with Sidney Crosby (6-for-17; 35.3%) taking the brunt of it for Pittsburgh.
Picking at nits for the Bruins, RW Tyler Seguin had no shots on goal in nearly 14 minutes of playing time.
After putting up points in each of the first eight playoff games this year, Penguins C Evgeni Malkin has been held off the scoresheet in three of the last four games. He led the Penguins with five shots on goal but, along with linemates James Neal and Jarome Iginla, struggled possession-wise, clearly getting the worst of the head-to-head matchup against the line of Kejci, Horton and Milan Lucic.
If the Bruins can win those head-to-head matchups, with Rask outplaying Tomas Vokoun in goal, they're going to be difficult to beat. Of course, it's really difficult to consistently win head-to-head matchups against Pittsburgh's top lines, but the Bruins achieved that feat in their Game One win.
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.