Chicago skates home with a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Final versus San Jose. Antti Niemi and the Blackhawks look to make it 3-0 on Friday night.
The Chicago Blackhawks were 139 road underdogs in Tuesday’s 4-2 win over the San Jose Sharks to lead the Western Conference Finals, 2-0. Friday’s Game 3 has the squads shifting to “Chi-town” with sports books installing the Blackhawks as 160 home chalk to get a third straight victory in the best-of-seven series.
Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien scored Chicago’s first two goals in Tuesday’s triumph. Ladd got the Blackhawks on the board at 12:48 of the first period with assists from Duncan Keith and Kris Versteeg. Byfuglien punched in the puck at 6:59 of the second with help from linemates Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
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Toews then picked up his own goal at 8:29 of the second period. The league’s postseason points leader (23) made the Blackhawks 1-for-4 on the power play after additional assists from Kane and Keith.
The combined six goals jumped above the ‘total’ of 5 ½ to make the ‘over’ 1-1 for the series. Chicago goaltender Antti Niemi (10-4) stopped 25-of-27 shots and improved his playoff GAA to 2.41, the highest among West contenders. San Jose’s Evgeni Nabokov (8-5, 2.53 GAA) had 18 saves and allowed all four Chicago goals.
Chicago's Troy Brouwer added his squad’s fourth goal at 6:18 of the third period. The four-year right winger had his third straight game with at least one point, and was assisted by Niklas Hjalmarsson and Marian Hossa.
San Jose was trailing, 3-0, when its first of two goals from centerman Patrick Marleau occurred on the team’s only power play chance of the game. The all-time Sharks points leader scored at 11:08 of the second period, and again with an even-strength goal at 15:32 of the third period.
San Jose’s Dan Boyle assisted Marleau in both of his goals. The defenseman had his first multi-point game since April 29, when he managed three assists in the Sharks’ 4-3 win against the Detroit Red Wings.
Center Joe Thornton and right wing Dana Heatley had the other two assists for San Jose. Thornton won 7-of-12 faceoffs en route to the Sharks out-drawing the Blackhawks, 28-21, in the circles.
The game concluded with a skirmish that saw a multitude of roughing penalties issued. Chicago’s Brent Seabrook and Andrew Ladd were sent off for two-minute minors. They were joined by San Jose’s Heatley and Ryane Clowe.
Clowe was also issued a 10-minute misconduct, the second of the left winger’s last four games. The prior incident occurred on May 6 during a 7-1 loss for the Sharks in Detroit.
Chicago is 3-3 in its six home playoff games, with the ‘under’ 3-2-1. San Jose is 3-2 in its five postseason road games, with the ‘over’ also 3-2.
The rivals split two one-goal games in Chicago during the regular season. San Jose was a 130 underdog in each, with the ‘total’ also splitting.
Sports books set the NHL betting odds ’total’ for Friday’s 8 p.m. (ET) matchup at 5 ½ ‘over’ (minus 120). Early betting action was mixed.
The foes will have one day off before meeting again in Chicago for Sunday afternoon’s Game 4.
The Blackhawks are adjusted 550 favorites to win the series, while the Sharks are listed at plus 450.
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