Blame for Game 4 loss rests squarely on woeful special teams
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter May 26, 2014 10:53PM
Updated: May 27, 2014 12:16AM
LOS ANGELES — The power play was bad, but the penalty kill was worse. Special teams continue to epitomize the Blackhawks’ plight against the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference final — the harder they try, the worse they get.
Despite emphasizing the power play and penalty kill after losing Game 3, the Hawks’ special teams were a disaster in a 5-2 loss in Game 4 on Monday night at Staples Center that put them in a 3-1 series hole. Coach Joel Quenneville didn’t even dispute the notion that the power play actually was the root of their demise.
After going 0-for-2 on power plays in the first period, they were 0-for-2 on the penalty kill as Jake Muzzin and Dustin Brown scored power-play goals to help the Kings to a 3-0 first-period lead.
“The first period was the difference,” Quenneville said. “Even though we started off decently, we lost a little momentum with our power play. Our special teams all year have been a strength. The first two series, penalty killing might have been the reason why we won [both].
“Right now, they’re going against us, so we have to shore up that area. And our power-play production has been off a little bit. We’ve got to make sure whether we’re scoring or not, we’ve got to sustain and gather momentum when the power play is out there.”
The Hawks were 44-for-48 (.917) on the penalty kill in the postseason through Game 1 of the Western Conference final — 27-for-29 against the Blues, 15-for-17 against the Wild and 2-for-2 in their 3-1 victory over the Kings in Game 1.
But they have killed five of 10 penalties (.500) since then, including a stretch in which the Kings scored five times in seven power plays after the Hawks had taken a 2-0 lead in Game 2 at the United Center.
“Find a way to do the job. I don’t think there’s a whole lot to it,” Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “We just have to execute.”
The Hawks had back-to-back power-play opportunities in the first period. But the second one was nullified 31 seconds into it when Marian Hossa was called for goalie interference. After Dustin Brown was out of the box, Muzzin scored 10 seconds into the power play on a 29-footer from the slot.
Patrick Sharp was called for roughing at 15:04, and the Kings scored 52 seconds later when Justin Williams redirected Muzzin’s long shot to Brown in front of the net for an easy tip-in that gave the Kings a 3-0 lead.
“They’re shooting the puck,” Quenneville said. “I thought maybe the first one we could have gone out to [Muzzin] coming down the gut. The third goal of the game, their second power play, we’ve got to be better than that.”