CHICAGO -- Celebration was followed by anger. Anger was followed by disappointment and frustration.
In the end, the Chicago Blackhawks somehow found a way of dispensing of all of those negative feelings Sunday and got back to celebrating again against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.
The Blackhawks and their sold-out home crowd were thrown into a tornado of emotions in the second period of Sunday’s series-opening game.
Captain Jonathan Toews first ignited celebration within the United Center when he appeared to score after driving to the net, with the puck ending up past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick after bouncing off defenseman Slava Voynov ’s skate into the net. The initial ruling was the goal was good, but it was overturned after it was determined Toews made incidental contact with Quick before the puck crossed the line.
As referee Marc Joannette waved off the goal and explained the call, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville led the charge of anger felt by his team and fans. Quenneville stood on the Blackhawks’ bench and gestured and yelled at the officials.
That anger turned into disappointment and frustration when the Kings scored 1 minute, 13 seconds after the Blackhawks’ goal was disallowed.
And like that, the Blackhawks went from feeling like they had a strong hold on the game with a 2-0 advantage to finding themselves tied 1-1 and the Kings possessing the positive feelings in the building. The swing could have been enough to demolish some teams.
Quenneville felt the foundation of his team shake after the Kings’ goal.
"I thought we lost a little momentum there -- they scored, equalized," Quenneville said.
But just as the Blackhawks had done before, they took a deep breath and regrouped. What had occurred was nothing new to them. They had to get past an even bigger officiating call last season in Game 7 of the second round against the Detroit Red Wings, when a goal was waved off with less than two minutes left in regulation in a tie game because of something that happened behind the play. The Blackhawks won that game in overtime.
The Blackhawks couldn’t prevent feeling immediate disappointment about the officiating call Sunday, but they could control what happened after that.
"It’s a little bit of a letdown, but they made the call on the ice, and you’ve got to play through it," forward Brandon Saad said. "You can’t let that change the outcome of the game. They got a goal shortly after, but you stick with it and play our game."
The Blackhawks got back to their game when Duncan Keith put them ahead 2-1 with a slap shot near the blue line at 11:54 of the period. The Blackhawks would hold off the Kings the rest of the way, and Toews added an uncontroversial goal in the third period to put the finishing touches on a 3-1 victory.
"Yeah, I think that's what it was all about, was just trying to forget about it, not get too worked up about a call that didn't go our way," Toews said. "To add insult to injury, they came right back to score to tie it up not too long after. That's where we did a good job of just forgetting about what happened, moving on, focusing on our game, not getting away from them."
Quenneville thought those were some of the greatest characteristics of his players and why they were able to celebrate with a win on Sunday.
"You got to commend our players for not changing their approach in big games," Quenneville said. "I think there's always going to be adversity in the course of a game. You're always going to lose momentum in the course of a game. Against a good team like that, you want to get it back as quick as you can, which I thought was a big point in today's win."