Western Conference Finals Game 2 – Blackhawks crush Sharks 4-2, take two game lead back with them to Chicago

By Jon Swenson - Last updated: Thursday, May 20, 2010 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment


Western Conference Finals San Jose Sharks Chicago Blackhawks Dustin Byfuglien Evgeni Nabokov
#44 VLASIC, #33 BYFUGLIEN AND #20 NABOKOV SET UP IN 1ST

Western Conference Finals San Jose Sharks Chicago Blackhawks Joe Thornton Antti Niemi
#12 PATRICK MARLEAU PICKS TOP CORNER FOR GOAL IN 2ND

Western Conference Finals Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Antti Niemi stick save
#31 ANTTI NIEMI MAKES A SAVE BEFORE #17 MITCHELL CRASHES NET

The Chicago Blackhawks took a commanding 2-0 series lead in the 2010 Western Conference Finals with a 4-2 win on the road in San Jose Tuesday night. The Blackhawks scored 3 goals inside of the first 30 minutes, and goaltender Antti Niemi stopped 25 of 27 shots against to close out the critical victory.

The Sharks outplayed Chicago early, but Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien and Jonathan Toews gave the Blackhawks an insurmountable 3-0 lead. After stick checking Versteeg to the ice, Marleau and Heatley were beaten to the loose puck by Versteeeg who moved it up to Duncan Keith. Keith found Andrew Ladd on the left wing, and Ladd fired a shot from 53 feet out that beat Nabokov cleanly glove side. Patrick Kane started another scoring sequence similar to Chicago’s second goal on Sunday. Kane carried it along the boards, then cut to the center of the ice and fired a long shot on net. With Byfuglien battling Rob Blake in front of Nabokov, the large Blackhawk winger deflected it accross the grain for his 6th goal of the postseason. Chicago added another power play goal by Jonathan Toews, again coming with 3 players providing a screen in front.

There were positives to take out of a 2-1 loss in game 1, but the statistics are starting to pile up against San Jose after game 2. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, higher seeded teams that have gone down 2-0 in the first three rounds of the playoffs have come back only 10 of 35 times (28%) since 1994. Add to that the fact that it was an astonishing 7th straight road win for Chicago, dating back to the Vancouver and Nashville rounds. For the Sharks, it is their 5th straight loss at home in the Western Conference Finals. San Jose wilted in three straight home games against Calgary in 2004, and the Sharks have given up the first two at home to Chicago in this series.

KNBR radio analyst Jamie Baker started to tick off some of the disheartening offensive numbers on the post-game show. Perennial sniper Dany Heatley, despite playing with a lower body injury, has 2 goals in 12 postseason games, and only 2 goals in his last 19 games dating back to a home win over Colorado on March 28th. The second line of Clowe-Pavelski-Setoguchi, which carried the Sharks for stretches over the first two rounds, is scoreless in 4 games and a combined -5. The third and fourth lines are making plays defensively, but are not making an impact on the offensive side of the scoresheet. The defense, which tied an NHL record last year with 4 defenseman having 30 or more assists, has one goal by rookie Jason Demers in the first two games against Chicago.

Patrick Marleau scored twice on Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Antti Niemi in the second and third periods, but the momentum had already swung firmly in the Blackhawks favor. Trying to overcome a 2-goal deficit, Rob Blake took a holding call with 2:08 left which effectively ended any comeback opportunity. Ryane Clowe and Dany Heatley subsequently took roughing minors, Clowe added a 10 minute misconduct, but the game was out of hand and the sellout crowd at HP Pavilion was very vocal with their displeasure.

“Somehow we have to harness what we start with and continue on,” Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said after the game. “We can’t let little bumps in the road slow us down. I’m not sure it’s about skating any faster. It’s the puck movement. We don’t continue to do what we started to do. We try and force it a little bit more. All of a sudden we look slower.” The Sharks outhit Chicago 35-32, but they looked a full step slow, chasing while trying to initiate physical contact. After being held without a penalty in game 1, the Sharks took 6 minor penalties and a 10-minute misconduct Sunday night. Chicago finished 1-for-4 with the man advantage, Patrick Marleau scored on the Sharks only power play in the second period.

A photo gallery from the game is available here.

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