May 21, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival (32) is checked by Los Angeles Kings left wing Kyle Clifford (13) during the third period in game two of the Western Conference Final of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
At some point, it was bound to happen. After racking up a perfect record at home in these playoffs, and having won 18 of the last 20 postseason games at the United Center, the Chicago Blackhawks finally dropped one in Game 2. And by “dropped one,” I mean they laid a massive egg.
It certainly didn’t start out that way. In fact, the first 38 minutes were going pretty well for the Hawks, who enjoyed a 2-0 lead until a cruel reversal of fortune late in the second period.
Before we get into the epic train wreck that was the third period, let’s take a quick look back at the first two periods.
Nick Leddy started things off when he went on a power-play breakaway thanks to a great Duncan Keith pass, giving the Hawks a 1-0 lead after the first period. Early in the second period, Johnny Oduya’s stretch pass connected with Ben Smith’s breakaway, putting the Hawks up 2-0 early in the second. There were some other great plays that unfortunately did not yield any goals but were fun to watch, like the Brent Seabrook – Kris Versteeg 2-on-1.
Apparently satisfied that their work was done, they punched their time cards and called it a day. Yet, there was well over 20 minutes of hockey left, and the Kings capitalized on the opportunity to take over the reins from a complacent Hawks squad.
They would go on to score 6 unanswered goals. (Sadly, it is not a typo.) That included a Jeff Carter hat trick (from only 5 shots), along with a goal each from Justin Williams, Tyler Toffoli, and Jake Muzzin.
Sure, there were some questionable calls, as there are in every game: Brandon Bollig’s interference; the puck that certainly seemed to deflect up into the net but wasn’t whistled dead and ended up behind Corey Crawford; the too many men call; a few no calls on the Kings for various infractions.
Yet we all know that regardless of whether they are valid or bogus calls, that can hardly be an excuse for such a spectacular implosion on the ice. Giving up leads in the third period is something the Hawks really should have left behind in the regular season, just as they left behind bad PK (which was on display tonight).
Putting the loss into perspective, note that the Hawks haven’t allowed so many goals in playoffs for the past 5 years. The last time they coughed up 6 was Game 4 of the 2009 Western Conference Final against the Detroit Red Wings, back when Marian Hossa played for the Dark Side.
On the other hand, consider this: the Kings have had the tendency to give up quite a few goals this postseason as well. Take the first round as an example: in Game 2 of the Quarterfinals against the San Jose Sharks, they lost by a whopping 7-2.
Also, don’t forget that when Hawks had home ice advantage in the Cup finals last year against the Boston Bruins, they lost Game 2 at home and were shut out for Game 3 in Boston. But we all remember quite well and rather fondly how that series ultimately turned out.
Game 3 is Saturday at 7 p.m. on NBC. What do you think, Hawks fans? Are you letting this one loss get you down, or are you shrugging your shoulders and saying, “Meh,” while gearing up for the next match up?