The Chicago Blackhawks first return to the Western Conference Finals in 14 years began with a horrendous third period in Game 1 against the Detroit Red Wings, resulting in a 5-2 loss to the rivals from Detroit.
For 40 minutes, it looked like the Blackhawks were going to challenge the Red Wings for a win at famous Joe Louis Arena as the Hawks only found themselves down by 1 after the second intermission. This was despite several point-blank scoring chances that the Red Wings found themselves before getting turned away by some sensational saves by Nikolai Khabibulin. The Hawks then tied the game on a Power Play very early in the 3rd period and it looked like they were becoming the aggressor again after that goal as they were the ones forcing the puck in Detroit's end and not the other way around.
However all of that turned sour as Brent Seabrook continued his struggles from the Vancouver series with a bad first game in the Conference Finals as his turnover in his own zone led to the go-ahead (and eventual game-winning) goal midway through the 3rd period.
It was frustrating to see the Hawks fail to capitalize on the momentum that they had from the game-tying goal by Kris Versteeg as Detroit dominated the final 14 minutes of the game. The game looked eerily similar to Game 1 of the Semifinals when the Blackhawks were down 3-0 to Vancouver before knotting that game up at three apiece. They seemed content just to be tied as Vancouver came back and turned a Blackhawks turnover in the offensive zone into the eventual game-winner; almost like a carbon copy of what happened today.
There is some room for hope for Hawk fans, however. They were down 1-0 in the last series against the Canucks before playing their best all-around game in that series a couple nights later in British Columbia.
All season long, it seems like this Blackhawks team has done a great job playing with their backs against the wall and overcoming adversity. For the team that does not have home ice advantage, all you want to do is gain a split in the first two games of the series. All this game means is that the game on Tuesday night becomes that much more important. If the Blackhawks can shore up their turnovers, they will have a great shot to even this series up heading back to Chicago.
Make no doubt about it, the Red Wings showed off their experience today in a big way. But Chris Osgood played way over his head at certain times today and with as talented and skillful the Blackhawks offensive attack is, he will not be as fortunate in later games in this series. The Hawks have had two impressive Game 2's so far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Let's hope that trend continues on Tuesday night.
- Sunday, May 17, 2009
- Posted by Jon Iaccino at 9:16 PM