Brent Seabrook talked about the Los Angeles Kings’ comeback ability heading into this Western Conference Final series.
“If we get up, we have to step on their throats,” he said. Unfortunately in Game 2 on Wednesday, the Blackhawks didn’t heed their own advice.
Jeff Carter tallied a hat trick, as the Kings came back to beat the Blackhawks 6-2 at the United Center. The Blackhawks were up 2-0 for a good chunk of the first two periods and were doing everything right. Then it all fell apart in the third period, when the Blackhawks turned horrid and the Kings turned terrific.
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Corey Crawford, so strong these past few games, allowed five goals on 30 shots, including four in that forgettable third period.
“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,” Crawford said. “We needed a big stop on the second [power play] — the first power play they got one, we needed a big kill and they got another one that kind of took everything out of us, that second power play.”
Coach Joel Quenneville said, “the way it turned on a dime like that, 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 was a disaster.”
Indeed, it was an ugly about face that the Blackhawks haven’t committed in quite some time. For nearly two full periods the Blackhawks were doing exactly what they wanted to do. The top line wasn’t scoring, but it was getting good chances. Brandon Saad was strong, drawing two penalties. Nick Leddy scored a pretty backhand power-play goal for a 1-0 lead and Ben Smith’s breakaway gave the Blackhawks a 2-0 advantage.
But a funny thing happened on the way to a 2-0 series lead. Jonathan Quick made a massive stop on a Kris Versteeg/Seabrook 2-on-1 break, with Quick deflecting Seabrook’s shot off his arm. The Blackhawks said it wasn’t a momentum changer. It may not have been for them, but there’s no doubt the Kings were re-energized. Just a few minutes later, Justin Williams’ goal cut the Blackhawks’ lead to 2-1 with less than two minutes remaining in the second period.
When the third began, it was all Kings. They took advantage of two penalties to start the third period. Brandon Bollig took a bad interference call and then the Blackhawks were whistled for a borderline too-many-men call. Both times, they Kings scored, with Carter redirecting a Drew Doughty shot on one and Jake Muzzin scoring on the other. Carter would add two more, and Tyler Toffoli would also score.
“It’s disappointing because we just didn’t find a way to keep playing the way we did in the first and second,” Jonathan Toews said. “It’s unfortunate we couldn’t bring the effort (in the third period) the same way. I guess we got what we deserved.”
The first 38 minutes were great for the Blackhawks. The final 22 were a disaster. The Kings gave them the scoreboard version of a punch to the mouth. Now the Blackhawks have to pick themselves up off the canvas.
“I thought we were playing very well and doing some good things. It just goes to show you what can happen when you take your foot off the gas,” Patrick Sharp said. “You make a few mistakes when you let up for a few shifts. That’s a quality team over there. They won a Stanley Cup (in 2012) and they’re hungry for more.”