SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 18: (L-R) Patrick Sharp #10 and Troy Brouwer #22 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrate a third period goal by Brouwer while taking on the San Jose Sharks in Game Two of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HP Pavilion on May 18, 2010 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Road Warriors: Chicago Sinks San Jose, 4-2, For Second Straight Road Win

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Toews Two-Point Night Helps 'Hawks Take A 2-0 Series Lead

San Jose, CA (Sports Network) - Chicago captain Jonathan Toews registered a power-play goal and one assist, as the Blackhawks defeated San Jose, 4-2, to take a commanding lead in the Western Conference finals.

Toews, currently riding an 11-game point streak, tops all playoff scorers with 16 assists and 23 points.

Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd and Troy Brouwer also tallied for the second- seeded Blackhawks, while Antti Niemi made 25 saves on 27 shots.

Chicago found itself in unfamiliar territory by winning 2-1 in Game 1 at HP Pavilion on Sunday. The Blackhawks had dropped four straight series openers dating to last season. They rallied to win three of those series, only losing to Detroit in last year's conference final matchup.

The Blackhawks have been road warriors in this year's playoffs, winning a club-record seven in a row as the guest since dropping Game 3 of their opening-round series with Nashville. They will now return to the Windy City for Game 3 on Friday with the intentions of sending San Jose to the brink of elimination.

However, the Blackhawks have not been nearly as assertive on home ice, splitting six games at United Center, something the top-seeded Sharks can use as a confidence builder to get back in this series.

Patrick Marleau netted both goals for San Jose, which got an 18-save effort from Evgeni Nabokov.


Game 2, 10:00 P.M.: Sharks Try To Even Series, Beat Niemi, Blackhawks

(Sports Network) - The San Jose Sharks will try to bounce back from a series- opening loss on home ice, when they host the Chicago Blackhawks tonight for Game 2 of the Western Conference finals at HP Pavilion.

Top-seeded San Jose was dealt a 2-1 setback at the Shark Tank on Sunday, giving the second-seeded Blackhawks a 1-0 edge in this best-of-seven series.

San Jose, which is in the conference finals for just the second time in club history after losing at this stage to Calgary in 2004, scored the first goal in Game 1, but Chicago tied it in the second period before Dustin Byfuglien notched the game-winning goal late in the third period.

The Blackhawks are participating in their second straight conference finals and are hoping to make their first Stanley Cup Finals since 1992. Chicago lost in five games to Detroit in last year's West finals.

Patrick Sharp notched the other score on Sunday for the Blackhawks, who improved to 6-1 on the road in this postseason. Antti Niemi picked up the win with a career-best 44-save effort. The 26-year-old Finn also upped his postseason record to 9-4.

"He's been good for us all year," Chicago forward Kris Versteeg said of Niemi. "Everyone seemed to be doubting him except us. We're confident in him. We have to give him a lot more help than we did tonight."

Jason Demers recorded the lone tally for the Sharks, who suffered just their second home defeat in these playoffs, falling to 5-2 in San Jose.

Evgeni Nabokov played well in defeat, making 38 stops.

"We were a little hesitant," said San Jose head coach Todd McLellan. "We made some passes that went awry. We fed their transition. If you do that against a team like this, you're going to end up spending much more time in your zone than you like."

The Blackhawks were also able to keep San Jose's formidable top line of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley in check. The line combined for just one point -- an assist by Marleau. Heatley did fire five shots on goal.

"I didn't think they were poor," McLellan said of his top line. "I thought they gave us 22 hard minutes. But with that said, I think we'll need a little bit more heading into Game 2."

This series will shift to Chicago for Games 3 and 4 at the United Center. After tonight, the clubs won't meet again until Friday night in the Windy City.

This also marks the first-ever playoff series between the Sharks and Blackhawks, but Chicago had the upper hand in the 2009-10 season series, taking three out of four from San Jose.

While the Sharks have never made it to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Blackhawks are aiming for their first trip back to the Cup Finals since 1992, when they were swept by Pittsburgh.

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