CHICAGO – Marian Hossa winked when the TV camera focused on him during the national anthem, a signal to his friends watching the game back home in Slovakia. Then he gave them something to cheer about.

Hossa tipped in the tiebreaking goal in the second period, helping the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 in the opener of the Western Conference finals Saturday.

Patrick Sharp also scored and Corey Crawford made 21 saves for the Blackhawks, who generated just enough offense to improve to 7-1 at home in the playoffs.

“It’s always great when you win the first game, especially back to back. It gives you a little momentum,” Hossa said. “I felt like we did lots of good things today. We know we have to be better.”

Jonathan Quick stopped 34 shots and Justin Williams scored a first-period goal to give Los Angeles the early lead.

With 71/2 minutes left in the second period, Sharp skated into the zone, left the puck for Johnny Oduya and kept moving forward. When Quick kicked away Oduya’s slap shot, the puck went right to Sharp, who scored into the lower right corner to tie it 1-1 with his eighth playoff goal.

“That first shot against him is tough,” Blackhawks Coach Joel Quenneville said. “You need traffic. You need a deflection. He finds a way to find pucks. I think the volume and traffic of shots is the only way to get to this guy.”

The Blackhawks kept up the pressure and went ahead when Hossa redirected a long slap shot out of the air at 16:22 of the second. The puck landed in the lower right corner again before Quick could find it in the maze of bodies near the net.

It was the sixth goal of this postseason for Hossa and the 42nd of his playoff career. The 34-year-old forward has at least one point in four straight games.

“If Quick’s going to see it, he’s going to stop it. If we can get a slight tip on it, I think it changes his view,” said Bryan Bickell, who earned an assist on the goal. “It was a nice tip by Hoss.”

Quick wasn’t made available to the media while the locker room was open after the game.

Los Angeles turned up the pressure at the beginning of the third, but Chicago killed off a power play.

Crawford was solid after an early gaffe played a role in the Kings’ goal. He stopped Dustin Penner’s tip attempt with a little more than five minutes left, preserving Chicago’s lead.


RANGERS: Captain Ryan Callahan and fellow forward Carl Hagelin underwent surgery Friday to repair torn labrums in their left shoulders.