Hockey / Sports

Chicago Blackhawks' Andrew Shaw and Los Angeles Kings' Drew Doughty react to being called for penalties in the second period as the Chicago Blackhawks faced the Los Angeles Kings in game four of the Stanley Cup Western Conference Finals at Staples Center, Monday, May 26, 2014 in Los Angeles. (Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

Blackhawks' special-teams struggles continue

LOS ANGELES -- After a Sunday practice devoted almost entirely to special teams, Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said he was seeking to ignite excitement in the power-play unit. Defenseman Duncan Keith warned after a Game 3 loss that the players must avoid the penalty box.

Acknowledging their flaws did little to alleviate the problems.

In a 5-2 loss Monday to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, the Blackhawks remained painfully ineffective on the penalty kill and equally inept on the power play. The difference between the way they were and the way they are on special teams is striking.

"Our special teams all year have been the strength of our team," coach Joel Quenneville said. "The first two (playoff) series, the penalty killing might have been the reason we won either series. Right now (the Kings are) going in against us so we have to shore up that area. The power play, our production has been off a little bit."

From the start of Game 2 through the first period of Game 4, the Kings converted 5 of 9 power-play opportunities. They were 2-for-2 in the first period (2-for-3 for the game) Monday, rifling goals past Blackhawks Corey Crawford and his invisible penalty-kill experts.

The Kings are 16-for-56 on the power play the last 16 games.

"They're scoring goals in different ways on their power play," Keith said. "We can try to get clears when we have the puck, just all the little things we talk about. Just settle down a little bit out there and we'll be fine."

The Kings' aggressive approach was meant to rattle the Hawks.

"My mentality on the first one, just kind of get a shot off, a one-timer, no matter what it was," said Drew Doughty, who was credited with an assist on Jake Muzzin's power-play goal for a 1-0 lead. "If it hits the guy, it hits the guy. Just want to get that in their heads that we're going to be shooting pucks. The more you shoot, the more other things open up."

The Hawks came up empty on three power-play chances, including two momentum killers in the first period. That's dangerous against the Kings, who moved to 8-0 when not allowing a power-play goal.

The Hawks have scored just one power-play goal on the road in 24 chances during the playoffs.

Quenneville switched up the lineup for the game, swapping Patrick Sharp and Brent Seabrook in hopes of finding a spark. But it mattered little.

"We've got to sustain and gather momentum when the power play's out there," Quenneville said.

(c)2014 Chicago Tribune

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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