Blackhawks can't solve Frederik Andersen, Ducks in Game 1


Blackhawks can't solve Frederik Andersen, Ducks in Game 1

ANAHEIM, Calif. – This game is all about the bounces. It’s all about the work ethic. And it’s about taking advantage of the opportunities.

On Sunday, the Anaheim Ducks made the most of the latter. The Blackhawks did not.

Kyle Palmieri scored the game-winning goal off a Blackhawks miscue in the second period and the Ducks would score two more in the third as they beat the Blackhawks 4-1 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final. Game 2 is Tuesday night at the Honda Center.

It’s the first time the Blackhawks have trailed in a series this postseason.

Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen stopped 32 of 33 shots for the victory. Corey Crawford stopped 23 of 26 in the loss.

[MORE: Five Things from Game 1 - Blackhawks need more traffic again]

As far as skating, hitting and shooting, neither team looked very rusty after their lengthy layoffs. But both the Blackhawks and Ducks made their share of errors. The Ducks struggled with passes and turnovers in the first period, when the Blackhawks outshot them 16-7. Andersen stopped all 16, including a stunning stick save on Patrick Kane.

“I thought I did everything right on the play. He just had his stick there,” Kane said. “If I would have put it along the ice I would have had a better chance of scoring there. It would have been nice to get that chance and bury it to give us the lead.”

The Ducks did just that. After a failed David Rundblad clear near the blue line, Hampus Lindholm scored to give the Ducks a 1-0 edge. Rundblad had another turnover early in the second. The Ducks turned that into a goal, too, with Palmieri scoring his first of the postseason for a 2-0 lead.

It was a tough start for Rundblad, who was playing in his first NHL postseason game.

“You don’t want to be on the ice when they score. Defensively, you look at the plays, we want to make sure we’re making safe plays and good pays and easy exits,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “A couple of those we could do differently.”

Still, there was plenty of time for the Blackhawks to recover. Brad Richards, off a Francois Beauchemin turnover, scored with 39.6 seconds remaining in the second period to cut Anaheim’s lead to 2-1.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Richards’ goal gave the Blackhawks momentum going into the third – or at least it seemed it should have. But between the missed power-play opportunities, Andersen’s great game and another error leading to another Anaheim goal – Duncan Keith’s overaggressive play on which Jakob Silfverberg eventually scored – the Blackhawks couldn’t come up with anything.

“Yeah, there are always going to be giveaways, always going to be chances both ways. They seemed to bury them. They didn’t make mistakes burying them,” Richards said. “It happens sometimes. But take away the score, we have to play more of a 60-minute effort, and play a lot more like we did in the first, throughout the game.”

The Blackhawks had their chances on Sunday. They’re usually a team that capitalizes when given those – just look at the Blackhawks’ series against the Minnesota Wild. But the Ducks are here for a reason: they’re pretty good in their own right. And on Sunday, they were best in the finishing department.

“We expected them to be a good team. I don’t think by any means did we come in and expect to steal and take wins from them,” Kane said. “It’s going to be a fight for us. We have to realize that and realize this is the best team we’ve faced yet.”

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

The Blackhawks made sports history on Saturday after they appeared in their fifth straight overtime game to start the season.

No NHL team has done that since the league introduced a regular-season overtime period in 1983-84, per the Elias Sports Bureau. It also has never happened in the history of MLB, NBA or NFL, showing just how crazy this early season run has been for the Blackhawks, who have rallied from all five games and have come away with wins in three of them.

"We’ve had five games, every one of them have been extremely intense and the game’s been on the line from start to finish," coach Joel Quenneville said following a 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues. "Our group’s been competitive this year, the guys have been working hard for one another. I don’t know how many games we’ve been down in the third period, and coming back to win is special."

The Blackhawks appeared in 17 overtime/shootout games last season and won seven of them. They are one of six teams this season that have yet to pick up a regulation win.

On a separate note, Saturday marked the eighth time in Blackhawks history that one player scored a tying goal in the third period and scored in overtime (Alex DeBrincat), according to the NHL's PR department. It's the second time it's happened this year for the Blackhawks, with Jonathan Toews the other on Oct. 6 against St. Louis.

Four takeaways: Alex DeBrincat salvages divisional game for Blackhawks in overtime on Duncan Keith’s special night

Four takeaways: Alex DeBrincat salvages divisional game for Blackhawks in overtime on Duncan Keith’s special night

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues at the United Center on Saturday night:

1. Special night for Duncan Keith — and Brent Seabrook

The Blackhawks celebrated Keith's 1,000-game milestone in the perfect way. Every player wore a No. 2 jersey during warmups, his family was on the ice for the pregame ceremony, and Patrick Sharp made an appearance to present Keith with a silver stick. Seabrook was also paired with Keith among the starters, a great touch by Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff.

But it was also a historic day for Keith's partner and close friend Seabrook, who became the franchise leader in games played by a defenseman, surpassing Bob Murray who previously held that mark at 1,008. It's only fitting Keith and Seabrook shared that moment together.

"We've been riding shotgun together for our whole careers," Keith said. "I couldn't imagine my career, my 1,000 games without him and all the experiences and memories that I've had winning and even losing, and the fun times we've had off the ice. I owe a lot of my success, and I think the team does as well, to Brent and what he means to the team and what he brings to our friendship and as a teammate."

To put a bow on the game, Keith had a vintage Keith moment on the game-tying goal in the third period when he intercepted a pass in the neutral zone on his backhand, then fed Toews a dart leading him into the offensive zone that set up DeBrincat's goal. 

2. Alex DeBrincat's torrid start

The Blackhawks continued to get contributions from their top players such as Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, both of whom extended their point streaks to five games to open the season. But DeBrincat has propelled himself into that conversation as a top player on this team.

He had a multi-goal effort for the second straight game, upping his goal total on the season to a team-leading six. His overtime winner is the first of his NHL career in that fashion.

DeBrincat didn't score his sixth goal until Nov. 12 last season, which was the 18th game. And he still finished with 28. While it's hard to envision him continuing to score at more than a goal-per-game pace, it's not hard to see him continuing to be one of the best players on the ice and generating offense and scoring chances on a nightly basis.

"I think I'm getting pretty lucky right now," DeBrincat said. "I'm playing with [Toews] and [Dominik] Kahun, they're making great plays and getting me the puck. It's pretty easy when you have those guys as your linemates. Even on that last goal, [Erik Gustafsson] made a great pass backdoor to me. Pretty easy tap in."

3. Squandering another two-goal lead

The Blackhawks took a 2-0 lead for the third straight game. And they squandered it for the third straight game, in large part because they committed five straight penalties in the second and third periods.

It's no longer a blip at this point and is becoming an alarming trend, even though the Blackhawks have come back to force overtime in each of those three games. That will be something the Blackhawks work on all season long.

But Quenneville would have liked to have seen the Blackhawks keep their foot on the gas pedal and cash in on their opportunities to make it a 3-0 game.

"Score the third goal," he said. "I loved the way we were playing. We had a lot of good things going. Eventually they’re going to get chances, get opportunities. But we had some great chances to get it to three. It was one of those nights, every game is kind of different how the leads changed."

4. Brotherly love

For the first time in the NHL, the Schmaltz brothers finally got their chance to go up against each other at the highest level. There had been a handful of other opportunities in the past, but it never lined up for a variety of reasons. 

They didn't see much of each other while on the ice — they were on together for only 1:30 of the game — but Nick did commit a penalty that led to Jordan assisting on the Blues' first goal on a delayed call. 

The best battles between Jordan, who turned 25 on Oct. 8, and Nick, 22, came when they were kids.

"We had a little roller rink downstairs in our house growing up," Nick said. "It would be me vs. my sister (Kylie) and my brother. Those were probably the best battles. Someone would usually come up crying or high-stick or puck to the face or something like that. A lot of good memories. Looking back at it, it was awesome to have that and work on each other’s game and push each other to get better."