Game 1 win shows Hawks on a roll


CHICAGO -- Beneath a woolly, dark playoff beard, Chicago Blackhawks irritant Brandon Bollig flashed a wicked grin.

Bollig, who irritates Blackhawks fans and opponents alike, was fresh off a two-game suspension for boarding, but his penchant for instigation paid off in the first period of the Blackhawks' 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference finals opener Sunday.

Around seven minutes into the game, Bollig skated hard toward goalie Jonathan Quick, stopped on a dime and refused to move for a second.

Annoying, right? The Kings thought so, even though that kind of play happens, what, every other shift?

Bollig's mere presence led to a nudge by one Kings defenseman and then a two-handed shove by Alec Martinez, who was sent to the penalty box for roughing. The NBC cameras caught Bollig smiling as he got up from the ice.

That gave the Blackhawks an early chance to make something happen.

With two seconds left on the ensuing power play, Brandon Saad was in front of the net, eclipsing Quick, and he used his "lower body" to tip in a hard shot from Nick Leddy.

Who's hating Bollig now, Blackhawks fans? He skated 19 shifts for a total of nine minutes, but all he needed was that one play to stand out. Chicago is now 8-0 when it scores first and is the only remaining team that is undefeated at home in the postseason.

The stars are the stars for the Blackhawks in this postseason -- Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Corey Crawford -- but never discount the accumulation of those little moments.

"The refs are looking for that and for [Bollig] to draw that. It's always nice to get on the power play," Saad said. "He had his grin going for sure, and that's big. We expect him to do that for us."

In the second period, Duncan Keith broke a 1-1 tie with a rocket inside the blue line, and Toews ended the scoring with a 3-on-1 insurance goal late in the third period.

Toews' goal in the second period was disallowed because of a convoluted and poorly communicated call. And while that non-goal was the most memorable -- Toews hurdling Quick like a dog diving for a ball -- and most talked about after the game, the Blackhawks didn't need any calls to get off to a fast start against Quick and the Kings.

They just needed to play their individual roles in the larger game. What's that saying? Eighty percent of playoff goals are showing up in front of the net?

"I need to start doing that more," the 21-year-old Saad said. "I can get goals different types of ways. I think getting to the net in the playoffs is how they're going to come."

It was the first postseason power-play goal of Saad's career and the Blackhawks' seventh of this playoff run. The Hawks killed two more penalties, running their postseason total to 44 of 48.

As Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said, "We don't care how they go in, but if you're looking for a perfect goal in the power play, it isn't going to happen."

Meanwhile, Crawford continued his dominant level of goaltending. Even when the post saves a goal, the crowd still chants, "Cor-ey! Cor-ey!"

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