The sound from the United Center crowd rose in anticipation as Kris Versteeg and Brent Seabrook went on their 2-on-1 breakaway, the pass from Versteeg hitting Seabrook perfect, the shot from the Blackhawks defenseman a great one.
The stop by Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, however, was better. But despite getting denied on that opportunity, which would’ve given them a 3-0 lead at the time, the Blackhawks said that was no excuse for their poor play the rest of the way.
The Blackhawks’ wheels came off in the third period, as their 2-0 advantage turned into a 6-2 drubbing by the Kings that evens this Western Conference Final series at 1-1. Quick’s stop ended up being a big one, one of 25 he would make for the game. But the Blackhawks said they’ve been stopped and stymied before and it didn’t hamper them – and this one wasn’t the reason for their demise either.
“That was definitely a big stop, but situations like that are going to happen,” Jonathan Toews said. “We had some big stops the other way around in Game 1 and it is what it is. You don’t look at it as a play that’s going to dictate the rest of the game.”
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Versteeg tipped his hat to Quick on that stop but reiterated Toews’ thoughts on whether or not it changed the game’s complexion.
"I don’t think any particular play does but sometimes other things give teams confidence, just like (Corey Crawford) when he makes big saves it gives us confidence,” Versteeg said.
Indeed, the Kings definitely felt the jolt from that stop. One way or another, however, the Blackhawks’ strong play suddenly disappeared. They got sloppy. They took bad penalties. They kept making mistakes and this Kings team, which has had the comeback mentality throughout the postseason, was more than happy to take advantage of it.
The Blackhawks didn’t get that third goal. Would it have made a difference, ultimately? Who knows. The bottom line is there are times you’re going to get stopped, stymied and, in the case of that Seabrook shot, just flat-out robbed. The Blackhawks have come back – or held steady – through those things plenty of times. On Wednesday, they just fell flat.
“You hope it goes in, but he’s a great goalie and he makes the save,” Versteeg said. “Tonight he really kept them in the game. They capitalized on their power play. They were obviously the better team tonight. We’re just going to have to find a way to go into their building and win.”