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Blackhawks Thu May 22 2014
If you went to bed late in the second period of Game 2 with the Hawks nursing a solid 2-0 lead, you probably woke up a little stunned hearing the final score was 6-2 Kings. How could this have happened, especially coming from a team that seemingly learned from its mistakes of losing late leads early on in these playoffs?
It wasn't as though the Hawks looked sluggish in any way during the first two periods of Wednesday night's game, but what went down in the third with five goals yielded (one an empty-netter) defies anything logical other than the Hawks took their lumps with a combination of too many odd-man rushes, too many dumb penalties and a bad bounce (karma?) that was allowed by assuming a play was finished. Sounds like a Bears game in early January.
Sorry, Bears fans, you didn't deserve that. Maybe a Jeff Samardzija reference would have been better? Either way, there's no denying the Hawks let what looked like a win in Game 2 slip through their hands due to getting outplayed the final 20 minutes.
The Hawks and Kings were dead even on shot attempts after the first 40 minutes of the game, tied up at 19 apiece. The Hawks scored their first goal on a power play by Nick Leddy, who did his best Patrick Kane impression, going backhand to Jonathan Quick's glove side. That power-play goal actually was the third penalty by the Kings up to that point in the game.
After Ben Smith beat Quick on a breakaway it was beginning to look like the route was on, especially when Brent Seabrook nearly put the Hawks up by three with a near miss one-timer/beautiful save by Quick. Everything was clicking, even despite Justin Williams's goal with only 1 minute, 46 seconds remaining in the second period to cut the Hawks' lead in half.
Then something happened those last 20 minutes of the game, which seemed almost surreal. Whatever it was Darryl Sutter said to his team during the second intermission, it kick-started the Kings, especially the second line of Tanner Pearson-Jeff Carter-Tyler Toffoli.
Even before that dreadful third period, the Hawks wasted three of four opportunities on the power play in the first period alone, including a five-on-three chance. After no penalties in the second by either team, it was the Hawks' turn to head to the box while skating to Yakety Sax.
Brandon Bollig's roughing call, Brandon Saad being sent off for too many men on the ice and Michal Handzus actually catching up to someone for a roughing call (really?) gave the Kings an opportunity to tie and take the lead for good. After that, it was all a haze.
The Kings outshot the Hawks 12 to six in the third and, overall in even-strength chances, the Kings sported a 54.2 percent Fenwick-for (scoring chances) to the Hawks' 45.8 percent, per ExtraSkater.com. The shot chart below reveals the steady incline of attempts by the Kings, especially after the Hawks' first goal in the first.
The main guys Joel Quenneville and staff will need to look to contain are the Mike Richards, who tallied a 75 percent Fenwick-for; and Dwight King, who also tallied a 75 percent Fenwick-for -- both play on the fourth line, which is a little cause for concern.
The Hawks have been playing very well as of late and simply threw up all over the ice at the end of the game. It's something Hawks fans haven't seen much of this season, especially in that fashion, but it's one they'll need to put away from their collective memory banks.
The Kings stole home ice, but all the Hawks need to do is steal one in Los Angeles, a place where the Kings are only 3-3 during these playoffs. Keeping a lead would be nice, but you have to think that will happen if the bad penalties are at a minimum.