By Brad Vandenberk
Finally, after waiting 10 days, game one of the Western Conference Final was played at the Honda Center in beautiful Anaheim. The Hawks have been trying to stay in game shape after disposing of the Wild in 4 straight games. There was one more test that stood in their way to reaching the Stanley Cup and it was the Ducks. They came to play this afternoon, but it was the Ducks who took game one with a 4-1 victory. Brad Richards scored the lone goal for the Hawks with 39 seconds left in the second period. That would be all she wrote from there.
Corey Crawford and Frederik Andersen were in net for this one and Andersen looked sharp, absolutely robbing Patrick Kane on a wide open net. David Rundblad replaced Michel Rozsival who broke his ankle and will not be able to resume playing until next season. Rundblad was very noticeable but in a bad way, almost solely being responsible for 2 of the Ducks goals.
It was Jonathan Toews vs Ryan Kesler to open the period, which brings back memories from the Hawks Canucks rival, so this was nothing new for Toews. Ryan Getzlaf throws a huge hit on Niklas Hjalmarsson coming through the neutral zone. The first power play of the game was awarded to the Hawks when Corey Perry gets called for slashing. As Crawford leaves for the bench on the delayed call, Perry gives him a little trip and already we can see that this will be one of those series. During the power play the Hawks struggle to gain the zone giving Kesler and shorthanded chance, he literally dances through the Hawks dishing off to Jakob Silfverberg who can’t beat Crawford. Teuvo Teravainen is going to be a star in this league and for the Hawks. He seems to be gaining a lot more confidence with each game. Francois Beauchemin tries to hammer Marina Hossa coming up ice with the puck, but big Hoss was ready for it bracing himself allowing Beauchemin to bounce right off him. Kane has a wide open net but somehow Andersen gets a stick on it forcing it over the net. The Hawks continue to put pressure on the Ducks. Silfverberg gains the zone and stops up waiting for Hampus Lindholm who wires a shot beating Crawford 1-0. Rundblad can’t contain Matt Beleskey, who screens Crawford. Toews line dominates the Ducks, but come away with nothing to show for it. The period ends with the Hawks up 16-7 in shots on net.
The second period starts much of the same way the first did, with the Hawks getting a lot of zone time, but nothing to show for it. Rundblad becomes a victim once again. He can’t clear the zone and Kyle Palmieri finds himself wide open in the slot snipping one right over Crawford to make it 2-0. Rundblad breaks his stick off the post after the goal. The hits continue from the Ducks and its Getzlaf once again delivering a thunderous blow on Brent Seabrook, who felt the effects immediately. Palmieri orchestrates a wrap around, but Crawford makes the save. The Ducks are beginning to tilt the ice in their favour. Bryan Bickell finds himself with Toews and Hossa on the top line as Coach Q begins to experiment with his line combos. At the half way mark of the period Bickell heads to the room after taking another Ducks hit. He did return. The Ducks get their first attempt on the power play when Hjalmarsson gets booked for tripping. Brandon Saad gets a shorthanded chance and Crawford makes a big save to keep the Hawks alive. The extended layoff starts to rear its ugly head. Hjalmarsson can’t seem to get off the ice for a line change and the Hawks ice the puck. He is bent over in exhaustion and finally makes his way to the bench. As the period is about to come to a close, Richards steals a puck from Beauchemin and beats Andersen blocker side to give the Hawks life 2-1. The Hawks are still outshooting the Ducks 25-15.
The third frame opened with Hawks swarming all over these Ducks but can’t seem to solve Andersen. The speed of the Hawks starts to get to the Ducks when Teravainen draws a penalty on Simon Despres for holding. The power play struggles once again failing to capitalize. Just after the penalty expires Kesler gets called for hooking Toews in the offensive zone after chasing him around. Most teams in this situation would be chomping at the bit to have back to back power plays. The Hawks threw everything they could at Andersen who wasn’t breaking. Crawford makes a tricky save on Andrew Cogliano. He looks back as he thinks it’s in the net but he keeps it tight between his pads not allowing the goal. Cogliano uses his speed once again breaking into the zone. He fires a shot on net and Crawford gives out a huge rebound on the stick of Nate Thompson who makes no mistake beating Crawford and the 4 Hawks sliding on the ice 3-1. This took the air out of the balloon for the Hawks but they still tried to beat Andersen to keep it close. Crawford heads to the bench with just over 2 minutes on the clock. Getzlaf and Silfverberg break in on a 2 on 1 and the puck finds its way into the empty net making the final 4-1 Ducks with a 1-0 series lead.
-Hawks outshot the Ducks 33-27.
-Hawks went 0/3 on the power play with the Ducks going 0/1.
-Hawks were out hit 44-34. Bickell had 7 of those, himself.
-Duncan Keith led all Hawks with 28:25, 10:23 of that was played in the first period alone. Rundblad saw 10:47 and Kimmo Timonen 5:15.
-Game 2 will be Tuesday night back at the Honda Center where the Hawks will try and steal one before heading home on Thursday night.
Saad Toews Hossa Keith Rundblad
Bickell Richards Kane Oduya Hjalmarsson
Sharp Vermette Teravainen Timonen Seabrook
Desjardins Kruger Shaw