Toews leads Blackhawks to 2-0 series lead over Flames
Jonathan Toews scored twice in the second period, leading his Chicago Blackhawks to a second straight 3-2 win over the visiting Calgary Flames in Game 2 of their best-of-seven NHL playoff series Saturday night.
Patrick Sharp added a goal and an assist as Chicago's line of Sharp, Toews and Patrick Kane exposed weaknesses in Calgary's defence, giving the Flames fits all night, accounting for all three of the Blackhawks' goals in the second period.
Defencemen Jordan Leopold, Dion Phaneuf and Adrian Aucoin were forced to log heavy minutes, playing more than 25 minutes each, as the Flames continued to struggle with injuries.
Cory Sarich, who missed Game 1 with a foot injury, played only seven minutes of Game 2, before going back into the dressing room. Robyn Regehr is still out with a lower body injury he suffered on April 2.
After the Flames jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, the Blackhawks responded with a strong effort in the second period.
'Unbelievable skilled play'
Sharp's goal at 13:58 of the middle frame tied the game at 2-2. He streaked down the middle of the ice, took a perfect pass from Kane and beat Flames goalie Miika Kiprussof on his backhand.
Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville was impressed, saying, "It was an unbelievable skilled play he made on that goal."
Toews's first goal came on the power play after the Blackhawks moved the puck across the ice with a couple of quick, crisp passes.
"It was a good feeling," Toews said of his first career NHL playoff goal. "It took us a while to get a goal tonight, but when we did, it got the crowd going."
His second marker, Chicago's third goal, came after Kiprusoff gave up a juicy rebound.
"I was a little bit [surprised at the rebound]," Toews said. "But sometimes you just have to go to the net. You don't know where it's going to bounce. Kiprusoff had most of the net covered, but I just put it on net and I was lucky enough for it to squeeze through."
Flames came out flying again
Once again, Calgary had an early lead on goals by Jarome Iginla and Adrian Aucoin in the first period.
Iginla notched a goal and an assist, along with four shots in the first period as the best player on the ice for the first 20 minutes.
"We played a good road game, took the lead in the first," Flames head coach Mike Keenan said. "We expected them to push back. We didn't respond like we needed to."
The Blackhawks, however, aren't happy with the pattern that has developed over the first two games, in which they have fallen behind in the first period. They won the first game 3-2 in overtime.
"It's a concern," Sharp said. "We don't want to be spotting Calgary a couple of goals [every time]. We have to look at it on film and [improve] our preparation. But give our team credit for coming back."
Iginla's goal broke a long stretch without a power-play marker for the Flames, which saw them go 0 for 46 with the man advantage over their past 11 games. Calgary was 1 for 4, while Chicago went 1 for 3 on the power play in Game 2.
With the Blackhawks holding the lead for the first time in the Stanley Cup playoff series, the Flames were unable to generate many scoring chances in the third period. Chicago had won the first game in overtime.
Shots on goal were fairly even, with Nikolai Khabibulin stopping 30 of 32 shots to preserve the win for Chicago, and Kiprusoff turning aside 30 of 33 for Calgary.
Game 3 is set for Monday night in Calgary. The Flames have never won a playoff series after trailing 2-0.