It was the failures before the successes that propelled the Chicago Blackhawks into the Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Kings.

The bad was plunging to a 3-1 series deficit one round early. The good was turning that on its head and getting within four wins of another shot at the Stanley Cup.

"Looking back, I think it is a good thing for our team to have gone through what we just went through, to kind of be pushed to the end, for a moment feel like that was it," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said.

"So just goes to show, any situation we may come into in this next series, we'll welcome the challenge."

The challenge began officially when the Kings struck first at the United Center on Saturday, but two blue-collar scores from Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa in the second period held up for a 2-1 win in Game 1 and a 1-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.

After a dicey early score, Corey Crawford recovered to make 21 saves and effectively outduel Jonathan Quick, who nevertheless made 34 saves for the Kings.

With the Hawks thoroughly unable to solve Quick early, it took only the slightest mistake from Quick and some perfect positioning from Sharp to break through. The veteran winger skated into the zone after a stretch pass from Michal Handzus, and then dropped the puck to a trailing Johnny Oduya.

Oduya unloaded on the net, and as he did, Sharp skated into the slot unattended. Quick gave up a rebound essentially right to that area, and Sharp blasted it home for his eighth playoff score and the 1-1 tie at the 12:29 mark.

Minutes later, more deft positioning from Hossa led to the go-ahead score. After the winger was stoned on a wraparound attempt, he floated into a spot just in front of the crease as the puck circled back out to Duncan Keith. Keith sent a blast on net that Hossa redirected for his sixth postseason score and the 2-1 edge at 16:22.

This after an otherwise dominant first period turned into a 1-0 deficit for the Hawks on a score by Kings forward Justin Williams.