Blackhawks take first two games of series with 4-2 win in Game 2
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org June 2, 2013 5:06PM
- Teams turn up intensity in early stages of Game 2
- Hawks confident when they take show on road
- Defensemen drive Blackhawks’ Game 2 victory
- Blackhawks’ speed, skill kill
- VIDEO: Kings goalie Jonathan Quick after 4-2 loss to Blackhawks in Game 2
- VIDEO: Blackhawks’ Duncan Keith on Game 3: ‘They’re going to have their best game’
- VIDEO: Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews on the elite play of Corey Crawford
- Blackhawks show they learned from series vs. Red Wings
Updated: June 3, 2013 12:25AM
The biggest roar of the night at the United Center didn’t come when Andrew Shaw scored less than two minutes in, or when Bryan Bickell woke up the power play, or when Corey Crawford robbed Dustin Penner with a glove-save from point-blank range, or even when Crawford jumped into a late skirmish to protect his captain.
No, the loudest, and certainly the most gleeful, cheers came as Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick — the unbeatable, impenetrable Jonathan Quick — trudged slowly from his crease to the bench, given the hook by coach Darryl Sutter after giving up the Blackhawks’ fourth goal in 17 shots.
On this night, the Hawks made the big, bad Kings look simply bad, rolling to a 4-2 victory and taking a 2-0 series lead in the Western Conference final. The series shifts back to Los Angeles — where the Kings are 7-0 this postseason, in contrast to their 1-7 road record — for Tuesday night’s Game 3.
And after all the pre-series hype about Quick, are the Hawks already in his head?
“Maybe a little bit,” Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “But I’m sure a guy like him, he’s a competitor, he’s going to bounce back. We’ve got to be even tougher on him and try our best not to let him build his confidence back.”
What was so surprising wasn’t just that the Hawks chased Quick, it’s how they did it. Three of the Hawks’ four goals were uncontested, unscreened shots. Shaw took a nifty no-look pass from Viktor Stalberg and ripped a wrister past Quick just 1:56 into the game. Brent Seabrook took a Marian Hossa drop pass and drilled a shot past Quick from nearly the same spot with 50.4 seconds left in the first period.
Bickell made it 3-0 at the 7:11 mark of the second, as the Hawks got just their fourth power-play goal of the postseason. Patrick Sharp’s low, hard shot from the blue line hit Bickell in the crease, then was batted in by Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr. Bickell — the Hawks’ breakout star of the playoffs — was credited with his sixth goal of the postseason. It was the only so-called “ugly” goal of the bunch.
Barely two minutes later, Michal Handzus took a Sharp pass and kept it on a two-on-one, beating Quick — and chasing Quick — again low on the short side. Handzus has a point in five straight games, all Hawks wins.
“I’ve played with him for a few years, so I’ve seen that shot before,” Quick said. “He has a little bit different of a release.”
Jonathan Bernier came in and stopped the bleeding, and the Kings got a Jeff Carter goal with 1:03 left in the second and a Tyler Toffoli goal with 1:02 left in the third. Toffoli’s goal came on the power play, leaving the Hawks a mere 46-of-48 on the kill this postseason.
While Quick stumbled, Crawford again rose to the occasion, stopping 29 shots for his fifth straight win.
“It’s competitive,” Crawford said of his battle with Quick. “You want to beat the guy on the other side, obviously. My focus is more on their players, but I definitely want to beat him.”
Ten days ago, the Hawks were on life support, down 3-1 to Detroit and one loss from a crushing early elimination. Now, they’ve won five straight and are a mere two wins from the Stanley Cup Final. The comeback against Detroit seemed to flip a switch in the Hawks, who are suddenly looking an awful lot like the team that dominated the conference all season.
“It’s huge for us,” Toews said of cracking Quick. “We went through a little spurt there in the last series where we were doing the right things, but the puck wasn’t going in. Now we’re getting the results we want.”