Blackhawks beat Sharks 4-2 to take 2-0 series lead

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Dustin Byfuglien and Jonathan Toews scored on deflections 90 seconds apart in the second period and the Chicago Blackhawks rolled to their record-tying seventh straight road win in the playoffs, 4-2 over the San Jose Sharks in Game 2 of the Western Conference final Tuesday night.

Andrew Ladd and Troy Brouwer also scored and Antti Niemi made 25 saves for the Blackhawks, who have a 2-0 series lead. This is the closest Chicago has been to making the Stanley Cup final since getting there in 1992.

The series moves to Chicago for Game 3 on Friday night and Game 4 on Sunday. That may not be the best thing for the Blackhawks, who are only 3-3 at home this postseason.

Chicago has had its most success on the road, clinching the first two series in Nashville and Vancouver before taking the first two against the top-seeded Sharks in a heavyweight conference final.

The Blackhawks are the fifth team to win seven straight road games in a postseason, joining Colorado (1999), New Jersey (1995), and the New York Islanders (1980 and ’82), according to STATS LLC.

Patrick Marleau scored both goals for the Sharks, who dropped to 0-5 at home in two trips to the conference final. They also lost the first two at home to Calgary in 2004 before tying the series with two road wins. They lost Game 5 at home and were eliminated the following game — the closest they’ve ever been to the Stanley Cup.

Now unless they can win at least one game in Chicago to avoid the sweep, the Sharks won’t have another shot to win at home this postseason. San Jose has lost all seven playoff series after falling behind 2-0.

After winning the opener on Byfuglien’s tiebreaking goal in the third period, the Blackhawks took control of Game 2 midway through the second period. Byfuglien and his 257-pound body played a big role once again.

With Byfuglien planted right in front of Evgeni Nabokov, Patrick Kane threw a puck on net from just inside the blue line that deflected off Byfuglien’s stick to give Chicago a 2-0 lead 6:59 into the second.

With Douglas Murray in the penalty box for roughing, the Blackhawks added to their lead when Duncan Keith fired a shot from the point with Toews and Byfuglien in front of the net. This time Toews got his stick on the puck to redirect it past Nabokov, make it 3-0 and silence the sellout crowd that greeted the Sharks with earsplitting applause less than two hours earlier.

Marleau gave the Sharks some life when Joe Thornton found him alone in the circle with a pretty cross-ice pass that cut the deficit to 3-1. But the hole proved too big for the Sharks to overcome, especially after Brouwer tipped in a shot from Niklas Hjalmarsson midway through the third to make it 4-1.

San Jose’s frustration was evident when Thornton slashed Dave Bolland while lining up for a faceoff, leading to a Chicago power play.

The Sharks looked the more desperate team early, generating most of the scoring chances in the opening 10 minutes but being unable to get a puck past Niemi. Devin Setoguchi was stopped by a pad save off a rebound, Thornton had a deflection and a one-timer turned aside seconds apart and Joe Pavelski nearly scored on a wraparound.

The Blackhawks made the most of their chances as Ladd carried the puck in from the neutral zone and beat Nabokov with a wrist shot from just inside blue line for the only goal of the first period. Once again, it was Thornton’s line that was on the ice for that goal, dropping him to minus-3 on the series and minus-9 in the playoffs.

NOTES: Toews assisted on Byfuglien’s goal extending his points streak to 11 games. … The Blackhawks are 17-2 all-time in the playoffs when taking a 2-0 series lead.