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Goalie Jonathan Quick, Kings’ defense work in tandem

Jonathan Quick

Jonathan Quick

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4 p.m. Saturday

at Hawks, NBCSN


7 p.m. Sunday
at Hawks, NBCSN


8 p.m. Tuesday
at Kings, NBCSN


8 p.m. Thursday
at Kings, NBCSN

GAME 5 if necessary

7 p.m. next Saturday
at Hawks, Ch. 5

GAME 6 if necessary

8 p.m. June 10
at Kings, NBCSN

GAME 7 if necessary

TBD June 12
at Hawks, NBCSN

Updated: July 2, 2013 8:11AM

Shoot high. Take him out wide. Fire one-timers across the slot.

It’s easy to say how to beat Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. It’s another thing to pull it off.

“He never gives up on the puck, he keeps battling through it and he keeps fighting for that second shot,” Blackhawks winger Viktor Stalberg said. “Sometimes guys think they have an empty net, but somehow he finds a way back there. I don’t think many pucks are going to beat him cleanly. I don’t think we’ve seen too many highlight-reel goals.”

No, when the Kings are on the ice, it has been almost all highlight-reel saves — Quick darting from side to side, leaping for loose pucks, snatching one-timers from out of nowhere. His oft-replayed sprawling, flat-on-the-ice glove save on a second-effort lunge for a shot by the San Jose Sharks’ Joe Pavelski late in Game 7 might have saved the series for the Kings.

Quick won the Conn Smythe Trophy for backstopping the Kings’ march to the Stanley Cup as the No. 8 seed last spring. He has been every bit as good this postseason, overcoming a shaky start against the St. Louis Blues to post a 1.50 goals-against average and stop 94.8 percent of the shots he has faced. His aggressive style — he comes way out of the net to challenge shooters and cut off angles — makes him seem vulnerable, but his incredible lateral quickness allows him to recover in time to make remarkable saves.

“He goes after everything, never gives up, covers the bottom of the net so well,” said Hawks goaltender Corey Crawford.

It doesn’t hurt that the Kings are a stout defensive team with a knack for blocking shots, clogging passing lanes and taking away those side-to-side one-timers — “the correct play” against Quick, according to Marian Hossa — that are the best way to beat an aggressive goalie.

It took the Hawks five games to solve Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, crashing the net and getting ugly goals on the doorstep while mounting their comeback from a 3-1 series deficit in the Western Conference semifinals. Quick, however, is exceptional at finding the puck in those goalmouth scrums.

The trick is to shoot high on him (if Pavelski had managed that, the Sharks might be in Chicago instead of the Kings). Again, easier said than done when the Kings defensemen are taking away time and space and Quick is locked in on the puck.

“From just watching the last series, he is low — he likes to almost look through guys’ legs for the puck,” Stalberg said. “So that’s an area where he might be beat.”

The Hawks hadn’t watched video of Quick as of practice Friday at Johnny’s IceHouse West. The plan was to break down film the morning before the Western Conference finals opener Saturday afternoon. But the Hawks are hockey fans, too, and they watched plenty of the Sharks-Kings series on TV. They know exactly what they’re up against.

Yes, the Hawks scored 12 goals on Quick in three regular-season games this year, two of them victories. But there’s something about the playoffs that turns Quick superhuman, and nobody in the last two seasons has managed to find his Kryptonite.

“It seems like you say it against every goalie, but you want to get traffic, you want to make sure he’s not seeing the puck, and when you do get those second opportunities, try to elevate the puck into the upper half of the net,” Patrick Kane said. “He’s a great goaltender, he’s been playing very well in the playoffs for a couple years now, and he seems to get better and better. We definitely have our work cut out for us.”

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