Blackhawks, Niemi Stonewall Sharks In Game One
By Marcus Gilmer in News on May 17, 2010 2:00PM
The Blackhawks got the Western Conference finals off to a good start in a wild, fast-paced Game One that the 'Hawks won 2-1. Betraying the large amount of time off each team had (the 'Hawks had four days off while the Sharks were off over a week), both teams came out firing, literally, as each topped 40 shots on goal (40 for the 'Hawks, 45 for the Sharks). After San Jose got a power-play goal halfway through the first, the 'Hawks responded with a second period goal from Patrick Sharp to equalize and with just under seven minutes left in the game, Dustin Byfuglien scored the game-winner for Chicago. But goaltender Antti Niemi was the real hero of Game One (or is that Antti-hero?), stopping a mind-blowing 44 shots out of 45 faced and helping the 'Hawks survive a last minute flurry in which a penalty resulted in a 6-on-4 advantage for San Jose in the closing minute. Niemi had several spells where he saved multiple shots from the San Jose offense in one go-round.
While others might have been blown away by his performance on Sunday, one group of people not surprised was his teammates. After the game, Patrick Sharp said, I don't know why we keep answering questions about Antti. There are no questions from our side. We know he is going to be solid and we need him to be big again in Game 2." As for the 'Hawks offense, it stared out slow, getting of only eight first period shots but came alive as the game wore on, getting 14 off in the second period and 18 in the third.
Be sure to get some extra sleep tonight because Game Two, still in San Jose, will be a late start tomorrow night when the 'Hawks try to open up a 2-0 lead before bringing the series back to Chicago (9 p.m., TV: Versus, Radio: WIND).