Ben Smith #28 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrates his goal against the Los Angeles Kings in the second period in Game Two of the Western Conference Final during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Chicago Blackhawks had a 2-0 lead through the first 38 minutes of the game, but over the final 22 minutes the Los Angeles Kings scored six unanswered goals as they picked up an easy 6-2 victory on Wednesday night.
The victory ties the series at 1-1 and gives the Blackhawks their first home loss of the postseason. Nick Leddy and Ben Smith had the Hawks' goals, while Jeff Carter scored a hat trick and added an assist in the Kings' victory.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As the third period got underway, the Blackhawks immediately gave the Kings a power play thanks to a Brandon Bollig penalty, and the Kings took advantage as they tied the game. Drew Doughty wired in a shot from the point, and he ended up getting credit for the goal even though it appeared that Jeff Carter got a piece of it in front.
A short time later, the Blackhawks were whistled for a too many men penalty as Peter Regin played a puck while Marcus Kruger was still on the ice, and the Kings scored again. This time it was Jake Muzzin making the nice moves along the boards, faking a pass across the zone before blasting a shot over Crawford's blocker pad and into the net to give Los Angeles their first lead of the series at 3-2.
Just a few minutes later, the Kings scored once again on an odd play. After a shot from Tanner Pearson deflected up high, the Blackhawks stopped skating, assuming it was going to hit the netting. It did not end up hitting the netting, and with Leddy and Michal Rozsival standing on the ice staring at the puck, Tyler Toffoli came in and fired a shot past Crawford to make it a 4-2 Kings lead.
The Blackhawks attempted to get aggressive with their blue liners pinching in, but it ended up costing them another goal. With Niklas Hjalmarsson deep in the zone, the Kings picked up a 2-on-1 rush against Johnny Oduya, and Carter ripped a shot past Crawford to make it a 5-2 lead, effectively ending the game.
Joel Quenneville did have one final trick up his sleeve as he pulled Crawford with about four minutes remaining in the game, but the Kings quickly scored to put the game completely out of reach. Duncan Keith tried to make a pass up the neutral zone, but it was intercepted by Carter, who deposited it into the empty net to make it a 6-2 game.
The Blackhawks will have a chance to take the series lead back on Saturday night when the two teams square off in Los Angeles for Game 3. Puck drop is scheduled for 7pm, and the game can be seen on NBC 5 Chicago.