They say your stars have to play like stars the deeper you get into the playoffs. Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp did that for the Blackhawks on Saturday night.
''I think they were buzzing tonight,'' Kings defenseman Matt Greene said of the Blackhawks forwards. ''We gotta do a better job on them, a better job on their entire team.''
With the Hawks trailing 1-0 after a 17-shot barrage against Jonathan Quick in the first period went for naught, Sharp and Hossa scored second-period goals to make the difference in a 2-1 victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals at the United Center.
''He's a good goalie. We all know that,'' Sharp said. ''He makes saves when he sees the puck, when he doesn't see the puck. Anytime you can get those second and third chances, that's the idea. We were fortunate.''
Each goal was a textbook example of how to beat the red-hot Quick. Sharp scored on a ''juicy'' rebound of a shot by Johnny Oduya that bounded off Quick's pads right in front of the goal. Hossa was obstructing Quick's vision in front of the net when he redirected Duncan Keith's shot from the point into the net 3:58 later to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead with 3:38 left in the second period.
Sharp's goal was his NHL-leading eighth of the playoffs.
''Started in our zone with a quick pass by Handzus,'' Sharp said. ''Got out of our end clean. Attacked on the rush. I said on the ice, 'We got six [defensmen] that can all skate, can all make plays. Johnny Oduya made a great play to activate and jump up. That's something that every team works on in practice, shoot off that pad and go into the net for the rebound. I was fortunate it came right to me.''
Hossa's goal was a testament to the idea that you need net presence to beat Quick. It's a matter of getting position, which Hossa does well.
''I saw the puck coming, so I just tried to somehow touch the puck. One of those goals, when the puck goes your way. It just hit your stick and beat the goalie.''
Hossa had an inkling he would make an impact in the game. When cameras were on him during the national anthem, he winked at the camera.
''Lots of my friends back home were watching at the bar. I was giving them some signal,'' Hossa said. ''They called me before the game, said they were going to watch. Hopefully they got the signal.''