Kings power past Hawks 4-3; take 2-1 series lead
There are special teams and then there are not so special teams. Unfortunately for the Chicago Blackhawks the L.A. Kings power play looked like a high powered offensive juggernaut while the Blackhawks power play faltered and that is putting it kindly when they went 0 for 4 on their own man advantage.
This also made the difference in this game. Officially there was only one power play goal for the Kings but a Drew Daughty goal was even strength but with only two seconds after the penalty expired which for all intents and purposes was like a power play goal.
The scoring was started by Jonathan Toews who scored a beauty of a shorthanded goal when he busted up the far boards side on a semi breakaway and faked a slap shot that took Jonathan Quick off his mark when Toews wristed five hole to put the Hawks up 1-0.
That lead was short lived because on the same power play Slava Voynov from the high slot got a shot through a partial screen past Crawford to tie the score up a one a piece.
Not wanting to be denied the captain one again was determined to score this team in greasy fashion when he was by the side of the net to pick up loose change past Quick after a Rozsival blast from the point. The first period came to a close with the Hawks leading 2-1. The rest of the game however did not go the rest of the Hawks way.
In their post game presser Kings’ defenseman Drew Daughty and forward Jeff Carter said they discussed in between periods that the Kings needed to make a concerted effort to stop Jonathan Toews and stop him they did. If no one else on the Hawks steps up this series will be over shortly. Jonathan Toews is a great player but he needs help. He can’t defeat the Kings single handedly.
The second period which is the Hawks Achilles heel continued to be. The Kings second line of Carter, Toffoli & Pearson the Hawks had no answers for as both Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli both scored and have been absolute Hawks killers.
The final period saw goals exchanged by Drew Daughty and a Patrick Sharp deflection very late in the period with Crawford pulled. The only good thing for the Hawks is that may spark Sharps’ goal scoring. It was also successful because there was traffic in front of the net.
There a several things going wrong for the Blackhawks right now but the two biggest things are their power play is not only lifeless it is actually draining energy from them and giving energy to the Kings. The zone entries need work and the shot selections are bad. There is no net front presence or any deflected shots that are needed when you have a great goalie like Quick.
Somehow coach Quenneville needs to start the blender for the second line. The speed cannot keep up with Carter, Pearson, Toffoli line and they are killing the Hawks right now. The Hawks need to try Kruger, Smith, Regin to try to gain speed and negate that Kings second line.
The Hawks are getting killed in the third period and getting outshot by wide margins when they are the team that is behind and needs to score. This trend needs to stop if they are to have success. The Hawks appear to wear down or let up while the Kings get stronger. They will get a chance to reverse the trend in Los Angeles and tie up the series because the alternative is to come back to Chicago down 3-1 in games and face elimination and that is something they must avoid.
Three Stars of the game
1. Jeff Carter
2. Drew Doughty
3. Jonathan Toews
Next game Monday, May 26, at 8:00 p.m. CDT at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Tune in to NBCSN in Chicago; or listen on radio via 87.7FM the Game.