Hockey / Sports

Blackhawks lose to Kings as floodgates open in third period

CHICAGO -- Cruising along with a two-goal lead and yet another postseason victory at home squarely in their sights, the Blackhawks were blind-sided in devastating fashion.

The Kings erupted with an onslaught of goals to stun the Hawks, 6-2, in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals Wednesday night at the United Center and sent the best-of-seven series to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Saturday night tied 1-1.

"The way it turned on a dime like that, I don't know if we've seen a game like that all year where we're doing everything right and then all of a sudden it was a disaster," coach Joel Quenneville said after the Hawks watched a 2-0 lead late in the second period turn into a blowout in the other direction when the Kings reeled off six consecutive goals -- five in the third period.

"It's pretty frustrating," Hawks winger Patrick Sharp said. "We got off to a good start through 40 minutes. We were skating well and drew a few penalties and then obviously things unraveled during the third. We're not happy and we're looking forward to getting on the plane and making up for it in Game 3."

It was the Hawks' first home loss during the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs and just their third in the last 21 postseason games on the West Side. The way it came about was most mystifying as the Hawks went from boom to bust seemingly in a split-second and now must regroup against a confident Kings squad.

"It just goes to show you what can happen when you take your foot off the gas," Sharp said. "You make a few mistakes when you let up for a few shifts. That's a quality team. They won a Stanley Cup (in 2012) and they're hungry for more."

Jeff Carter had three goals and an assist and Justin Williams, Jake Muzzin and Tyler Toffoli also scored as the Kings seized momentum and home-ice advantage in the series. Jonathan Quick was brilliant in the crease -- including a terrific stop on Brent Seabrook during a two-on-one break with the Hawks leading 2-0 -- to win the goaltending battle as Corey Crawford was shelled for five goals on 30 shots to see his goals-against average in the playoffs rise from 1.90 to 2.11 and his save percentage drop from .933 to .926.

Crawford and the Hawks saw things deteriorate quickly when Williams scored late in the second period off a net-front scrum to halve the Kings' deficit and start the rout in motion.

"You're bound to give up something," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "(But) if they score a goal to pull within one, it doesn't mean they have to score six unanswered. We always want to close out periods. We want to try to keep that momentum going into the next one but sometimes (that) happens. We just needed to find a way to bounce back early in that third and we didn't do it."

So instead of heading west with a comfortable 2-0 lead, the Hawks find themselves in another situation where they need to regroup and locate the game that helped them bounce back from defeats in both the first and second rounds against the Blues and Wild, respectively.

"The (Kings) are going to be even better in their own building so we have to expect that," Toews said. "You have to reflect on what just happened and be ready to raise our own level of play. We have to focus on what we can do better and make sure we're ready to play a more complete game."

(c)2014 Chicago Tribune

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