But that domination didn't last, and it wasn't enough to beat the Boston Bruins, who took advantage of some breaks and evened the series with a 2-1 overtime victory Saturday night at United Center.
Daniel Paille scored the game-winner for the Bruins 13:48 into overtime in the second straight game that went beyond regulation. Minutes after Jaromir Jagr hit the post, Paille took a pass from Tyler Seguin and ripped his shot off the post and in past Corey Crawford.
"There's not a lot of room out there for both teams," Bruins right-winger Nathan Horton said. "When we get the opportunity we've got to score."
Looking a little tense at the morning skate, the Boston was thoroughly out-classed in the first period.
Chicago had 19 shots to Boston's four, controlling the play with the power and calm precision of a Presidents' Trophy-winning team playing with plenty of confidence. The Blackhawks got tangible evidence of their strong start when Patrick Sharp scored 11:22 into the first.
With the Bruins lost and scrambling in their own end, it looked like a matter of time until the puck would go in. After Seguin tried to slide in the way of a shot, defenceman Johnny Boychuk and forward Kaspars Daugavins struggled to keep their footing, and Sharp took advantage of the chaos to beat Tuukka Rask.
"The first period, we just weren't there," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We were on our heels and they had total control.
"I thought (in) the second we started turning it around. Third, same thing. We got better as the game went on and in overtime, there's no doubt that was our best period. We had a lot of scoring chances."
The Blackhawks thought they a two-goal lead 70 seconds later. The puck was in the net, but referee Wes McCaulley waved it off immediately.
After video review it was ruled no goal. The NHL said in a statement: "The referee had blown the play dead prior to Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa pushing the goaltender's pads and the puck across the goal-line."
Rask made 18 first-period saves to keep the floundering Bruins in the game. Chicago managed just three shots on three power plays through the first two periods.
During the second period, the whole game changed. The Bruins woke up from their slumber and halted the Blackhawks' momentum, and one mistake tied the score.
Sharp lost the puck behind the net to Paille, who dodged Blackhawks Nick Leddy and put it in front. It pinballed to centre Chris Kelly, who buried it to silence the crowd of 22,154.
That happened again at the end of the night as the Bruins tied the series at a game apiece. Game 3 is Monday at TD Garden in Boston.
"We had the perfect start to the game and then we stopped doing what made us successful," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We stood around and they countered."