When you saw the title of this post, was the first player who came to your mind Corey Crawford? Well, he should’ve. We’ll get to why that is later.
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The Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings had a pair of very entertaining Western Conference finals series in 2013 and 2014, with each team taking one series and eventually winning the Stanley Cup. Though some might feel the 2014 series was the more entertaining of the two because it went longer and, ultimately, down to the wire (overtime in Game 7), there were plenty of fun moments in the five-game 2013 series as well.
We’re taking a look at one of those today as our countdown of most memorable Blackhawks playoff wins under coach Joel Quenneville continues.
Note: Check out the previous entries in this series at the end of this post.
No. 28: 2013 Western Conference finals, Game 2
Chicago Blackhawks 4, Los Angeles Kings 2
The Blackhawks had taken the first game of this series at the United Center and were looking to maintain home ice heading into Cartman’s House, AKA Staples Center. They got off to a pretty good start thanks to a Kings miscue.
Los Angeles’ Trevor Lewis wound up with the puck coming out from behind the net and tried to throw it to Jarret Stoll further up the boards. But Nick Leddy had Stoll cut off, and the puck instead wound up on the stick of Brandon Saad. He would toss it above the circles where Viktor Stalberg was, but Stalberg was on his backhand and could do little so far as getting a shot on net. However, Andrew Shaw was skating into the circles on his forehand, and Stalberg found him with a nice pass through traffic. Shaw beat Jonathan Quick with the following shot, and Chicago was ahead less than two minutes in.
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The Kings spent a lot of the first period going bombs away from the point and passing quite a bit to find open lanes. Active sticks from the Blackhawks frustrated L.A., and Crawford being on point didn’t help matters for the visitors. Brent Seabrook and Bryan Bickell penalties were also killed off in the frame.
Maybe the most difficult save of the opening period for Crawford came with less than two minutes to go, when a dump in caromed awkwardly off the side board to a streaking Tyler Toffoli. Crow had started to go behind his net to play the puck, but had to quickly adjust and slide back in front of his net.
Not optimal positioning. (Screenshot from YouTube)
It looked as though Chicago would head into the locker room up 1-0, but Seabrook had other plans, as he usually does in the postseason. Jonathan Toews took the puck from the defensive zone and went off on a 2-on-2 with Marian Hossa. The captain found Hossa with a pass, and the elder skatesman dropped it off to Seabrook entering the offensive zone. Seabs got in closer to the circle to Quick’s left and hammered a shot through the Los Angeles goaltender to propel his team to a 2-0 edge.
Things started to look really good early in the second. After several minutes of scoring chances for the Blackhawks, many featuring Patrick Kane, the Chicago powerplay got rolling with its first chance of the game. Saad had the puck down low and sent it to Patrick Sharp at the point. Sharp pounded a shot in on Quick, who had trouble collecting it while also dealing with Bryan Bickell on his doorstep. Bickell would eventually backhand the puck through Quick’s legs to put the Blackhawks ahead 3-0 about seven minutes into the frame.
Los Angeles sent itself into the pit of despair not too long after Bickell’s goal. Stoll had Kane pressed up against the boards near center ice, with the puck also in the mix. Kane found a way to tap it out to Sharp, who was racing down the ice with Michal Handzus. The puck wound up on Handzus’ stick, and he wired a wrister past Quick for a fourth unanswered goal. Sharp leaping into Handzus’ arms along the boards after the goal makes this close to perfect.
The fourth goal also brought on Jonathan Bernier in relief of Quick, who stopped just 13 of 17 shots. Bernier was tested quickly in his appearance when Sharp had a breakaway later in the period, but the post saved Bernier and the Kings.
Crow finally got some more work in when Dustin Penner stole the puck from Seabrook at the blue line late in the second, giving Penner a semi-breakaway. But Crow stoned the wrist shot to keep L.A. off the board for the time being. It wouldn’t last too long, however, as Jeff Carter slapped home a goal after Slava Voynov made a nice play with his hand to keep the puck from leaving the Kings’ offensive zone off a faceoff win.
When this game really became memorable, however, was in the third period. No, the Blackhawks didn’t score at all (Los Angeles actually scored once on the powerplay with about a minute remaining). But Crawford, if he hadn’t done so already, earned the respect of his teammates in a big way.
The Kings had quite a few skill guys on their team in 2013, but they also had (and still have) some grinders. Kyle Clifford and former Blackhawk Colin Fraser would fall into the latter category, and they wanted to mix it up with less than 10 minutes to go in the game.
Fraser started the scrum by tripping Toews besides the Chicago net. Michal Rozsival saw this and went right after Fraser in front of Crawford. Clifford was also nearby and chopped his stick over Rozsival’s back, drawing the ire of Toews. With Rozsival and Fraser rolling around on the ice, Clifford had Toews all to himself — not an enviable spot for the Blackhawks.
Clifford proceeded to jab his glove into Toews’ face repeatedly, and Crow soon decided he’d seen enough.
Hugs, not drugs. (Screenshot from YouTube)
Yes, Corey Crawford got physically involved with a guy who has almost 500 penalty minutes in five NHL seasons. Also not enviable for the Blackhawks, but Crow wasn’t about to let his captain get pushed around, as he knew Toews was trying to avoid committing a penalty with his team ahead by three goals.
The officials quickly separated Crawford from the scrum, after which Bernier stupidly raised his hands in the air asking Crawford if they needed to drop the gloves. A “Cor-ey” chant broke out for a little bit after this, and it was quickly followed by an “L-A sucks!” chant. Toews wound up going to the penalty box for reasons (the TV guys weren’t even sure why he was penalized), but Crow standing up for his captain and probably the city’s favorite player really made this game one to remember.
As was said before, Los Angeles scored one more time late in this one to create the final margin of victory for Chicago, which went on to win two of the next three games against the Kings and earn a spot in the Stanley Cup Final.
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