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Blackhawks wonder what hit ’em

Updated: June 24, 2014 7:47AM



Not that the Blackhawks were in the market for a demonstration, but now they know what it’s like to meet the business end of a speeding truck.

That should come in handy never.

The Los Angeles Kings scored six straight goals Wednesday night to beat the Hawks 6-2 in Game 2 of the Western Conference final. It’s not the end of the world for the Hawks, who know how to bounce back from a bad loss, but there was some serious road rash involved.

In the blur of five third-period shots, what had been hyped as a tight, competitive series became exactly that. It’s tied at one game apiece heading into Saturday’s game in Los Angeles, and it will be a long plane ride for the Hawks, who weren’t flat Wednesday so much as flattened.

They had a 2-0 lead for most of the second period, until the Kings’ Justin Williams set up camp in front of the net and scored. Inside-hockey analysis: You can’t allow that if you’re the Hawks.

The truck was just getting warmed up at the United Center.

‘‘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,’’ Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

If goalie Corey Crawford wasn’t twitchy before, he has to be now after seeing (or not seeing) pucks pile up in the net behind him. The Kings scored two power-play goals early in the third period to take a 3-2 lead, and whatever momentum the Hawks were in possession of was seen leaving town.

Jeff Carter had a hat trick for the Kings — all in the third period. Piling on is supposed to be a football penalty.

Going into Wednesday night, the Hawks had won seven straight home playoff games. There are now tire marks on that factoid, too.

‘‘At some point, they’re going to lose a game at home,’’ Kings coach Darryl Sutter said afterward. ‘‘They’re not going to win every one.’’

Penalties happen in hockey. Often. But when they happen to your team twice in rapid and costly fashion, it’s hard to be so cavalier about them. So the Hawks were not at all pleased with their descent into hockey lawlessness in the third period.

‘‘The best way to kill penalties is not to take them in the first place, and we didn’t do that in the third,’’ captain Jonathan Toews said.

It’s funny how a barrage of goals can reduce a supremely confident team to rubble. But that’s hockey, and that’s what happened.

It’s hard to come up with any positives for the Hawks from this game, so let’s not waste the energy. This is a game best forgotten if you’re the team from Chicago. There are no Big Lessons here. There is nothing wrong with the Hawks, and Crawford is not a lesser goalie because of what happened Wednesday night.

If the Hawks have shown anything the last five seasons, it’s the ability to come back strong in difficult situations. They did it in the playoffs last season against the Detroit Red Wings. They have the talent and resolve to do it again. It doesn’t mean they will. It means it will be shocking if they cave in after one bad game.

‘‘Across the board, we know that we need to file this one, learn from it and be ready for Game 3,’’ forward Patrick Sharp said.

Wayne Gretzky was in attendance Wednesday, and when he was shown on the big screen at the United Center, the crowd roared. He might have been a King at one point in his career, but exceptions are made for hockey gods. Gretzky won four Stanley Cups in five years with the Edmonton Oilers, so he knows what a dynasty looks like. Maybe he recognized some of those championship traits in the Hawks, who are going for their third Cup in five seasons. If he did, it had to be early in the game.

After the Hawks took that 2-0 lead, the biggest concern was that they would go into their version of the prevent defense, trying to clear the puck out of their zone rather than attacking the Kings at every opportunity. Such was the force of the L.A. comeback, the Hawks didn’t even get a chance to be tentative.

The Kings tied the game 2-2 on Carter’s first goal of the third. That truck? Nobody could have known, but its brakes weren’t working.

Email: rmorrissey@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MorrisseyCST



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