NHL playoffs: Blackhawks take Game 1
CHICAGO — Corey Crawford is playing so well right now that nothing seems to bother him. When the Chicago Blackhawks had a goal waved off in the second period Sunday, Crawford picked up the slack for his disappointed teammates.
Crawford made 25 saves, Jonathan Toews had a big goal in the third period, and the Blackhawks beat the Los Angeles Kings, 3-1, in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.
‘‘Confidence has always been there,’’ Crawford said. ‘‘Really the first thing is being prepared, having that preparation to try and have my game at the highest level it can be each time I get out there.’’
He is on quite a roll right now, allowing only one goal in each of the last three games. The 29-year-old Crawford leads the NHL with a 1.90 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage in the playoffs.
‘‘He does a good job of never getting too high or too low because tomorrow’s another day,’’ teammate Brandon Saad said.
Saad had a goal and an assist for defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago, which remained perfect in seven home playoff games this year. Duncan Keith had a tiebreaking score in the second period.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night.
Playing just two days after a Game 7 victory over Anaheim, the Kings got a second-period score from Tyler Toffoli and outshot the Blackhawks, 26-20, in the opener of a rematch of last year’s Western Conference finals. But Crawford made a couple of solid stops in another terrific performance.
‘‘I think we can do a better job of getting in front of the net and make it harder on their goalie because we had some pretty good shots, but nobody was hanging around, so he was able to see everything,’’ Kings center Anze Kopitar said.
With the Blackhawks clinging to a 2-1 lead in the third, Toews, Marian Hossa, and Johnny Oduya got loose on a three-on-one break. Toews one-timed Oduya’s pass right by Jonathan Quick for his sixth playoff goal at 16:10.
Toews’s 26th career playoff goal came after he had one waved off in a confusing stretch in the second period.
It looked as if Chicago had a 2-0 lead when Toews’s rush to the net resulted in the puck going off the skate of Kings defenseman Slava Voynov and into the net. But it was waved off after a conference by the officials, prompting boos from the crowd of 21,832 and a waving, yelling display from Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.
According to the NHL, the original call of good goal was changed because the officials decided Toews made incidental contact with Quick before the puck crossed the goal line. The league said the ruling was not reviewable, so the call on the ice remained in place.