The Los Angeles Kings scored six unanswered goals against the Chicago Blackhawks to win Game 2, 6-2, and even their Western Conference Finals series.
The Blackhawks got off to a hot start in the first game of the series, but both teams were pretty evenly matched in the early stages of Game 2. The Jonathan Toews line continued to impress as they not only held the Anze Kopitar line of the Kings in check, but they also generated some quality scoring chances.
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As a result of their strong play, the Blackhawks got an early power play when Willie Mitchell was sent to the box for interference. Patrick Sharp had a great shot on goal, but Jonathan Quick made a save. Matt Greene also headed to the box for Los Angeles, and the Hawks got a 5-on-3 power play as a result. Unfortunately for the home side, they weren’t able to convert on either penalty as the Kings buckled down defensively, and the game remained scoreless as a result.
Both goaltenders made a couple of nice saves in the middle stages of the period, with Quick stopping a Bryan Bickell shot despite losing his mask in the sequence, and Corey Crawford made a tremendous stop on a rushing Marian Gaborik. The Kings did end up getting a power play with their renewed push, but they couldn’t get any good chances as the Blackhawks’ forecheck continued to play impressive hockey.
After somehow not getting a goal as Peter Regin crashed into the net mouth, the Blackhawks finally got on the board thanks to the power play. With the Kings trying to recover after a failed 3-on-2 rush, Nick Leddy got in behind the defense and got a breakaway attempt. He lifted a backhanded shot past Quick and into the top shelf of the net, and with less than six minutes remaining in the frame the Hawks had a 1-0 lead.
The Blackhawks did get a power play in the closing stages of the first period, but they weren’t able to convert on it even as it carried over into the second period. A short time later though, they did score a goal to extend their lead to 2-0. Johnny Oduya’s stretch pass eventually found its way onto Ben Smith’s stick, and the American-born forward beat Quick on a short-side shot to make it a two goal lead.
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As the period hit its middle stages, the Blackhawks’ forechecking game continued to be the story of the contest as the Kings struggled to get anything going in their transition game. The Blackhawks meanwhile continued to get good opportunities, including a 2-on-1 rush that saw Quick rob Brent Seabrook with a tremendous sprawling save across the crease.
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With about two minutes remaining in the second period, the Kings finally got on the board. After a failed pass across the zone, Mike Richards picked up the puck near the goal line and fed a pass to the front of the net. Instead of finding an open Kings player, the puck actually deflected off of Justin Williams’ skate and slowly slid between Crawford’s leg pads and into the net, cutting the Chicago lead to 2-1.
The Kings did get one more good opportunity late in the period when Dustin Brown deflected a shot from the point in on goal. Crawford was up to the task however as he made an athletic save, and through two periods the Blackhawks maintained their one goal advantage.
Early in the third period, the Kings were handed a power play after an ill-advised penalty by Brandon Bollig, and they took immediate advantage. Drew Doughty got the puck at the point off a nice feed from Slava Voynov, and his shot in was deflected by Jeff Carter to tie things up at 2-2.
Just two and a half minutes later, the Kings had another power play thanks to a too-many-men penalty on Chicago, and they scored again to take the lead. This time it was Jake Muzzin doing the dirty work, collecting a puck along the boards and faking a pass before rifling a shot over Crawford's blocker pad to make it a 3-2 game in favor of the visitors.
Less than five minutes later, the Blackhawks were caught staring at the puck, and the Kings extended their advantage. Thinking that the puck had bounced off the netting behind the goal, the Hawks' defenders stopped moving, and Tyler Toffoli took advantage as he picked up the puck and fired it past Crawford to make it 4-2.
In the late stages of the game, the Kings scored two more goals to pull away. Carter skated into the zone on a 2-on-1 rush after a bad pinch by Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, and he put a shot past Crawford to give Los Angeles a 5-2 edge. He added an empty net goal a few minutes later to finish off his hat trick, and the Kings cruised from there to a 6-2 victory.
For now, the Kings will head back to California looking to take control of the series on Saturday night when the two teams meet in Game 3 at Staples Center. The puck drops at 5pm Pacific time, and the game can be seen on NBC.