Blackhawks drop Game 2; Kings score six unanswered goals
BY MARK LAZERUS Staff Reporter May 21, 2014 9:38PM
Updated: May 22, 2014 12:28AM
The story has been the same throughout the postseason. The Blackhawks are winning but not dominating. Prevailing but not pounding. Every game has been down to the wire, and nothing is coming easy. Simply put, the Hawks haven’t been at their best. They haven’t been themselves.
Then, here came the Hawks.
Then, there went the Hawks.
After 38 near-perfect minutes, the Hawks fell apart in a stunning 6-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night in Game 2 of the Western Conference final. After falling behind 2-0, the Kings rattled off six consecutive goals — three by Jeff Carter — to even the series 1-1, seize home-ice advantage and hand the Hawks their first home loss of the postseason. The Kings had lost eight of their last nine games against the Hawks.
“This is a huge game for our approach, our psyche,” Kings captain Dustin Brown said. “Kind of like slaying the mythical dragon.”
The Hawks, after maybe their best start of the postseason, were left dazed and bewildered — kind of the way they looked on the Kings’ fourth goal, when Carter’s shot deflected high off Corey Crawford and fell behind the net. The Hawks stopped skating, apparently thinking the puck had hit the netting above the glass. It hadn’t, and Tanner Pearson fed Tyler Toffoli to make it 4-2.
“The way it turned on a dime like that,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “I don’t know if we’ve seen a game like that all year, where we’re doing everything right, and then all of a sudden it’s a disaster.”
Indeed, the Hawks were up 2-0 and cruising — fast, aggressive, deep and dominant. Nick Leddy’s roofed backhander on a power-play breakaway sprung by Duncan Keith gave them a 1-0 lead in the first. And Ben Smith’s breakaway, sprung by Johnny Oduya’s stretch pass that tipped off Brandon Bollig’s stick, made it 2-0 early in the second.
It easily could have been a much bigger lead if not for Jonathan Quick, however. He made several big stops, the biggest one coming at 12:30 of the second, when he slid over and made a spectacular save on Brent Seabrook, who was on a two-on-one with Kris Versteeg.
“We were playing some really good hockey in the first two periods,” Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “It turned around pretty quickly.”
No kidding. It started when Justin Williams breathed some life into the Kings with a greasy goal in the crease with 1:46 left in the second. The Kings were 0-6 when trailing after two periods, and the Hawks were 7-0 at home in the postseason. But Kings coach Darryl Sutter told his team in the second intermission, “At some point, they’re going to lose a game at home.”
This was the night. With Bollig in the box early in the third, Carter tipped Drew Doughty’s shot from the point to tie it 2-2. Then Jake Muzzin beat Crawford from the left circle on another power play to make it 3-2 — three goals in less than six minutes of game time. Then came Toffoli’s bizarre goal, followed by another one from Carter and an empty-netter by Carter.
“You’re bound to give up something,” Toews said of the Williams goal that changed the complexion of the game. “But if they score a goal to pull within one, it doesn’t mean they have to score six unanswered.”
Said Crawford: “It’s too many, it’s too many. It’s going to be tough to win a hockey game when you give up that many goals in a short amount of time. Can’t be giving up that.”
But they did. And now they have a long flight and two long days to think about how they let the game — and home-ice advantage — slip away.
“Obviously, things unraveled there in the third,” Patrick Sharp said. “We’re not happy, and we’re looking forward to getting on the plane and making up for it in Game 3.”