The Chicago Blackhawks won Game 1 of the Western Conference final over the Los Angeles Kings, 2-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Why the Blackhawks Won: Simply, because the Kings are incompetent when it comes to generating offense on the road. Chicago had a 17-2 shots advantage in the first period, but took charge of the affair when the flow opened up in the second frame. The first big rebound allowed by Quick was pounced on by Patrick Sharp and was a perfect example of the advantage Chicago’s speedy forwards have on L.A.’s slower defense corps. The scoreboard doesn’t do justice to just how much better the Hawks were.
Why Los Angeles Lost: The Kings can’t let the Blackhawks carry the play because their speed and depth of talent has greater potential to bite than San Jose’s or St. Louis’. That’s just what happened in Game 1, and although the Kings have made a habit of being out-shot, this was extreme. They good news is they still have Jonathan Quick playing lights-out between the pipes, which will always keep them in a game and give them a chance.
Play of the game: Patrick Sharp’s rebound-pounce got Chicago its first goal, which is always a big boost against an opponent like Quick. And the Kings goalie doesn’t give up a lot of rebounds like this one, so it was crucial to take advantage.
1. Jonathan Quick: His 34-save performance was wasted on a loss, but the Kings goalie continued to be superhuman-good.
2. Patrick Sharp: His rebound goal got Chicago on the board – and getting that first goal against a wall of a goalie is huge for morale.
3. Marian Hossa: Logged 18:34 and scored the game-winning goal. The Blackhawks needed to get more bodies to the net this series after struggling with it against Detroit – and that’s how Hossa got his goal.
What’s Next: No matter what, Los Angeles is going to have to figure out a way to win in Chicago to have a chance in this series. Yes, the score was close, and having Quick will keep Los Angeles around, but a world-class team like Chicago is not one you want to control the offensive zone. The Hawks did what they were supposed to by winning Game 1 at home. Now they need to take this momentum, and a 2-0 series lead, into Los Angeles, where the Kings have been unbeatable. – Rory Boylen
Why Boston Won: The first period was fast and physical, while the second was downright dirty. In both instances, the Bruins were the more prepared team – they know how to survive a mudfight. Despite Pittsburgh coming out with the bigger hits and better chances, Boston struck first and kept on trucking from there. As the game wore on, their depth allowed the elite workhorses to shed minutes, which will help in Game 2.
Why Pittsburgh Lost: One of Pittsburgh's motivational posters this year simply declared “Hunt.” It was a reminder to always pursue the puck, but the Pens' aggressiveness did them in Saturday night, as Boston counter-attacks on failed Pittsburgh offensive forays often led to goals or at least great scoring chances. The Pens got absolutely worked in the faceoff circle, too.
Play of the Game: More a lowlight than a highlight, Matt Cooke's hit from behind on Adam McQuaid set off a litany of ill will, including Brad Marchand decking James Neal in similar fashion and Sidney Crosby jawing with Zdeno Chara.
1. David Krejci: All the offense Boston needed (though Nathan Horton added a third) as the Czech sniper notched the winner and the insurance marker. He also won 83 percent of his draws.
2. Tuukka Rask: The Finnish fortress got his first career playoff shutout and earned it early. Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh snipers had their opportunities, but Rask shut the door.
3. Patrice Bergeron: Not only did he play his usual excellent shutdown role and win 63 percent of his faceoffs, but he got Malkin off the ice for five minutes when the two scrapped at the end of the second frame.
What Happens Next: We find out whether or not Matt Cooke will be allowed to play in Game 2. Suspension or not, this will continue to be a physical series, but the two teams are smart enough to know that all the line-stepping in the opener will have to be reined in: neither want to die on undisciplined play. Pittsburgh can at least take solace in the fact they had their chances and must hope that Rask doesn't stay as hot as he was for the next game. For the Bruins, Game 1 served as a perfect blueprint for success. – Ryan Kennedy