Hawks can excel any way you want to play
Tuesday, 06.1.2010 / 8:53 AM CT / News
By Dan Rosen - NHL.com senior writer
CHICAGO -- Coach Peter Laviolette says the Philadelphia Flyers shouldn't be frustrated because they controlled the pace for most of Monday night's game and had several scoring chances in the third period that were foiled by Chicago Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi.
On the other hand, isn't that precisely why your team would be frustrated?
Chicago accomplished the rare feat of winning two one-goal games in totally different fashions within 48 hours. Game 1 was an 11-goal shootout, while Game 2 was a tight-checking and low-scoring game, the kind you would expect in the Stanley Cup Final.
"We've learned to play different styles of play, and tonight was more the way we're comfortable," Hawks center Patrick Sharp said following Chicago's 2-1 win that gave them a 2-0 lead in the series. "No matter, 6-5 and 2-1, it's still a one-goal lead and you have to preserve it in the third, and I think that again we battled hard toward the end of the game. That's a good sign. Hopefully we can win two more."
Right off the bat, the players knew Game 2 was going to be the polar opposite of Game 1. Mike Richards and Dave Bolland jostled off the opening draw, setting the tone for a nasty first period. Game 1 was relatively civil by comparison.
The Blackhawks had no trouble playing the gritty way. They out-hit the Flyers, 20-13, in the scoreless first period and held a 9-3 advantage in shots.
After the first period of Game 1, Philadelphia held a 3-2 lead and a 17-9 advantage in shots on goal.
"Last game, it was just really sloppy," Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell said. "I don't think it was a Stanley Cup game, it was more like two teams battling for the first-overall pick in my mind. Tonight is what you would expect and what you're going to see for the rest of the series."
Laviolette commented on how the chances and shots evened out in the second period, but again, the Hawks had no problems playing the up-tempo style. They wound up scoring twice within 28 seconds late in the period to grab a 2-0 lead.
It was 5-5 after two periods in Game 1.
"I don't know if momentum changed when they scored the second goal (Monday)," Laviolette said. "It certainly was a big goal at the time, and if anything that should swing the momentum to their favor, but we seemed to dominate the third period."
He's dead on this time.
The Flyers got an early power-play goal from Simon Gagne to cut into the Hawks' lead and wound up with a 15-4 advantage in shots on goal in the third period. They were hounding Niemi and the Hawks, especially when goalie Michael Leighton was pulled for the extra skater with 1:45 remaining.
Philadelphia kept the pressure on and zipped the puck around thanks to the extra skater. Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Brent Sopel and Niklas Hjalmarsson had almost a two-minute shift together, all in the defensive zone.
And still, the Blackhawks came away on the positive side of the ledger.
"I think we could have started a little better tonight, but I'm not sure we should be frustrated," Laviolette said. "I don't think we got outplayed."
It's hard to say that they did in Game 1 either, but Chicago is up 2-0 in this series because it managed to win two completely different games that both came down to the wire, down to one goal being the difference.
Is there a way to explain it?
"That's hockey," Chicago center John Madden said. "I know it's cliché, but that's it, that's hockey."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
Author: Dan Rosen | NHL.com Staff Writer