The Blackhawks seem intent on making history rather than repeating it. The last time the franchise captured the opening game of a postseason series it proceeded to drop the next four in an early exit.
In an effort to exorcise that demon in Game 2 of the Western Conference playoffs against the Calgary, the Hawks managed to avoid a historical repeat as they rallied to a 3-2 victory over the Flames.
The victory before a crowd of 22,514 at the United Center gave the Hawks a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series that now shifts to Calgary for Games 3 Monday night.
In the 2002 playoffs, the Hawks took Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues before collapsing in the next four. The Hawks have a 24-10 all-time postseason series record when winning Game 1 and a 16-2 mark when opening a 2-0 series lead.
After falling behind 2-0 after the opening period, the Hawks roared back with Jonathan Toews' two second-period goals and another from Patrick Sharp as they rode goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin to the victory.
"It was a good thing to get out of that first period and it was kind of a fresh start for us," Toews said of the dominating second period that the Hawks captain opened with a power-play goal at the 46-second mark.
"It was good to get that goal early and at that point it felt like a completely different game. All the guys on the bench were refreshed and the game was tighter. It was a great second period and even better in the third that we could hold them off for such a long period of time."
For those who thought Game 1 featured ferocious hitting, it didn't compare to the check-fest Saturday night. The Flames out-hit the Hawks 21-12 in a frenetic first period that saw Calgary dominate most of the scoring chances. There was nary a whistle that didn't draw pushing and shoving as both teams tried to establish a physical presence. The Hawks out-hit the Flames 13-5 in the second and Calgary finished with 37 to the Hawks' 35.
"It was a pretty fast start out there with a lot of bodies flying around," said Sharp, who tied it at 13:58 of the second. "We can't be spotting a team like the Flames two goals."
First, Toews took a perfect cross-ice pass from Sharp and fired a forehand past goalie Miikka Kiprusoff at :46. Patrick Kane then set up Sharp for the tying goal at 13:58. He scooped up a loose puck along the boards and hit Sharp with a backhand pass that Sharp corralled, shifted from his backhand to forehand and fired past Kiprusoff.
With :24 remaining in the period, Toews knocked a rebound of a Dave Bolland shot from the top of the right circle past Kiprusoff to give the Hawks the winning margin.
"We're happy about the position we're in but we don't want to get comfortable for one second," Toews said. "This game was a lot tougher than the last one. We know the pace is only going to pick up and only get tougher. Especially in their building."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun