Blackhawks Take 2-0 Series Lead Over Sharks

Dustin Byfuglien and Jonathan Toews scored on deflections 90 seconds apart

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    Brent Sopel #5 and Troy Brouwer #22 celebrate the Blackhawks 4-2 victory with teammates after defeating the San Jose Sharks in Game Two of the Western Conference Finals.

    The Chicago Blackhawks got goals from three of their lines, another strong performance in net from Antti Niemi and frustrated the San Jose Sharks into taking some uncharacteristic penalties.

    About the only thing that went wrong for the Blackhawks is they have to pack their bags and head back home.
    Dustin Byfuglien and Jonathan Toews scored on deflections 90 seconds apart in the second period and Chicago won its record-tying seventh straight road game in the playoffs, 4-2 over the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.
    "I guess we get really pumped up and the crowd is just screaming at us, cursing and stuff like that," defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "I don't know what it is. We just have a good feeling as a team right now."
    Andrew Ladd and Troy Brouwer also scored and Niemi made 25 saves for the Blackhawks, who have a 2-0 series lead. This is the closest Chicago has been to making the Stanley Cup finals since getting there in 1992.
    The series moves to Chicago for Game 3 on Friday night and Game 4 on Sunday. That may not be the best thing for the Blackhawks, who are only 3-3 at home this postseason.
    Chicago has had its most success on the road, clinching the first two series in Nashville and Vancouver before taking the first two against the top-seeded Sharks in a heavyweight conference final.
    The Blackhawks are the fifth team to win seven straight road games in a postseason, joining Colorado (1999), New Jersey (1995), and the New York Islanders (1980 and '82).
    "We want to keep that simple mentality when we go home," Toews said. "We'll be excited to play, but it doesn't mean we have to go out there and get flashy and make the big plays in front of our own fans."
    Patrick Marleau scored both goals for the Sharks, who dropped to 0-5 at home in two trips to the conference final.
    Now unless they can win at least one game in Chicago to avoid the sweep, the Sharks won't have another shot to win at home this postseason. San Jose has lost all seven playoff series after falling behind 2-0.
    "The good news is that everybody thinks we're done," defenseman Dan Boyle said. "We're going to go to Chicago and try to disappoint everybody. I'm not quitting and no one else in this room is going to quit. You can throw the stats out the window. I don't care. The task is going to be absolutely very difficult. It can be done and it will be done."
    After winning the opener on Byfuglien's tiebreaking goal in the third period, the Blackhawks took control of Game 2 midway through the second period. Byfuglien and his 257-pound body played a big role once again.
    With Byfuglien planted right in front of Evgeni Nabokov, Patrick Kane threw a puck on net from just inside the blue line that deflected off Byfuglien's stick to give Chicago a 2-0 lead 6:59 into the second.
    With Douglas Murray in the penalty box for roughing, the Blackhawks added to their lead when Duncan Keith fired a shot from the point with Toews and Byfuglien in front of the net. This time Toews got his stick on the puck to redirect it past Nabokov, make it 3-0 and silence the sellout crowd that greeted the Sharks with earsplitting applause less than two hours earlier.
    "You're not going to move that man," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said of Byfuglien. "He's that big, that strong, he establishes his self. Better be able to control his stick. We failed to do that. Obviously, he made a huge impact on the game."
    Marleau gave the Sharks some life when Joe Thornton found him alone in the circle with a pretty cross-ice pass that cut the deficit to 3-1. But the hole proved too big for the Sharks to overcome, especially after Brouwer tipped in a shot from Hjalmarsson midway through the third to make it 4-1.
    San Jose's frustration was evident when Thornton slashed Dave Bolland while lining up for a faceoff, leading to a Chicago power play.
    "They're just getting frustrated and they can't take it," Bolland said.
    NOTES: Toews assisted on Byfuglien's goal extending his points streak to 11 games. ... The Blackhawks are 17-2 all-time in the playoffs when taking a 2-0 series lead. ... Thornton was on the ice for two more even-strength goals and is minus-4 for the series and minus-10 for the postseason.