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Hawks in super shape after taking first two games from Sharks
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff

Chicago Blackhawks right wing Troy Brouwer, left, celebrates in front of San Jose Sharks defenseman Niclas Wallin (7) after scoring during the third period of Game 2 of the NHL hockey Western Conference finals, Tuesday.


Associated Press

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Published: 5/18/2010 11:45 PM | Updated: 5/19/2010 7:35 AM

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SAN JOSE, Calif. - By the middle of the third period Tuesday night, the fans at HP Pavilion weren't booing only Brian Campbell.

The home crowd turned on the Sharks in the latter stages of a dominating 4-2 Blackhawks victory in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.

While the Sharks only showed glimpse of desperation after dropping the series opener on home ice, it might have been because the Hawks were everywhere with their quick sticks and quicker legs.

"We're on a mission right now," Campbell said. "We have a goal and we're taking it day by day, trying to reach that goal."

The Hawks backchecked the life out of the Sharks, who trail the best-of-seven series 2-0 with Games 3 and 4 on Friday and Sunday at the United Center.

"To win two games in their building is a great way to start the series," Patrick Sharp said. "But you've seen all across the playoffs teams battling back from 3-1 and 3-0, so we can't take anything for granted, and we're not in here."

Building a 3-0 lead in the second period, the Hawks only got stronger as the game went on, frustrating the Sharks in a number of ways.

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville did a masterful job of getting Dave Bolland on the ice against Joe Thornton's line as often as possible, and Bolland was able to get under the skin of the Sharks' star.

"That line was very big tonight," Quenneville said of Bolland, Andrew Ladd and Kris Versteeg.

Thornton took a slashing penalty against Bolland at 8:14 of the third period before a faceoff in what appeared to be a deliberate attempt to whack the Hawks' center above his glove. Sharks coach Todd McLellan's explanation of the slash bordered on the absurd.

"When I talked to him he was going forward on the draw and we've seen that before where he times it and tries to shoot it," McLellan said. "That's a tactic Joe has and it ended up bring a little quick and being on the hands."

The Hawks escaped another early charge by the Sharks, and thanks to goalie Antti Niemi took a 1-0 lead out of the first period on Ladd's goal at 12:48.

"I thought we withstood another barrage in the first 10 minutes," Quenneville said. "Antti was rock solid again."

Ladd beat Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov with a wicked 45-foot wrist shot after Versteeg recovered after a spill to break up a potential 2-on-0 by the Sharks.

Dustin Byfuglien's sixth goal of the playoffs made it 2-0 at 6:59 of the second period.

Byfuglien was camped in front of the net with Jonathan Toews when Patrick Kane circled into the deep slot and took a shot that went in off Byfuglien.

It became 3-0 less than two minutes later on a power play when Toews tipped a Duncan Keith shot over Nabokov from in front with Byfuglien also there. Toews has scored at least 1 point in 11 straight games to tie Stan Mikita's team record.

The power play resulted from John Madden, Ben Eager and Adam Burish frantically crashing the net with Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray earning a roughing penalty after a whistle.

"It doesn't matter what goalie it is or what team we're playing, the tactic is always get traffic and bodies to the net and pucks, and we happened to get a couple tonight," Byfuglien said.

The Sharks crept within 3-1 in the second period, but Troy Brouwer's tip-in of a Niklas Hjalmarsson shot at 6:18 of the third period was a killer goal.

Now it's back home for the Hawks, who are 7-1 on the road in the playoffs but only 3-3 at the UC.

"We can totally forget about these two games here and try to redeem ourselves at home," Toews said. "That's our motivation. We know we haven't been near what we wanted to be at home, so we'll motivate ourselves and be pumped to be back and play at the United Center."

Tim Sassone's game tracker

Blackhawks 4, Sharks 2

Three stars

1. Jonathan Toews, Hawks: A goal, an assist and won 53 percent of his faceoffs.

2. Dustin Byfuglien, Hawks: A big goal in the second period and a presence in front of the net all night.

3. Duncan Keith, Hawks: How about these numbers? Two assists, 4 blocked shots and 30:21 of ice time.

Follow the leader

Hawks captain Jonathan Toews now has an 11-game points scoring streak.

The quote

"We're on a mission right now. We have a goal and we're taking it day by day, trying to reach that goal." - Hawks defenseman Brian Campbell.