Los Angeles Kings vs. Chicago Blackhawks: Biggest Takeaways from Game 2
Jeff Carter netted a hat trick, while Jonathan Quick made 23 saves as the Los Angeles Kings overcame a 2-0 deficit and defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 6-2. The victory evened up the best-of-seven NHL Western Conference Final series at 1-1.
Chicago led 2-0 late in the second period on goals by Nick Leddy and Ben Smith, but a tally by Justin Williams with one minute and 46 seconds left in the second period got the Kings on the board and shifted the momentum of the game.
Los Angeles scored five unanswered goals in the third period to win going away.
Game 3 will be played Saturday night in Los Angeles.
Here is a look at the biggest takeaways from Game 2. Feel free to comment on any of the issues discussed here or add one of your own. As always, indicate why you feel the way you do.
The Blackhawks Stretch Passes Are Very Effective
For the first 38 minutes of the game, the Chicago offense utilized long stretch passes to create quality scoring chances.
Nick Leddy's goal was a direct result of a stretch pass after the Kings got caught up ice on a short-handed scoring chance.
Ben Smith's goal also came off a long breakout pass by Johnny Oduya, which was deftly deflected by Brandon Bollig right to a wide-open Smith. Smith was picking up speed through the neutral zone and uncovered as he came off the bench.
Chicago spaced its players out well, was able to create odd-man rushes and find open forwards in space as a result of these longer passes.
The Kings finally made adjustments to their coverage and their forecheck and shut down these long passes in the third period.
It will be interesting to see how often the Blackhawks are able to use their speed and offensive talent to create these kinds of scoring chances during the rest of the series.
Both Teams Must Stay out of the Penalty Box
Penalties were momentum-killers for both teams at various times in Game 2.
The Kings were not able to roll their four lines in the first period, in large part because they took four minor penalties.
The Blackhawks capitalized and took a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal by Nick Leddy. They also controlled the tempo of the first 38 minutes of this game, in part because the Kings' penalties prevented them from getting into their regular rhythm.
In the third period, the Blackhawks were clinging to a 2-1 lead when they took two penalties in the first 2:50 of the final stanza. The Kings scored on both chances with the extra attacker, and the Blackhawks suddenly trailed 3-2.
Los Angeles had taken control of the game and never looked back after that.
The penalties taken in bunches by both teams were a big part of the tempo and momentum of this game.
The Kings Are Resilient and Did Not Lose Confidence
Experience matters and the Kings have plenty of it. They put it to good use in Game 2 in their comeback victory.
For 38 minutes, the Blackhawks controlled the pace and tempo of the game and had the better scoring chances.
But the Kings kept their cool, made adjustments and were able to take control of the game in the final 22 minutes.
The Kings won a Stanley Cup in 2012. In the first round of this year's playoffs, they overcame a 3-0 series deficit to defeat the San Jose Sharks in seven games.
The Kings didn't panic when they trailed 2-0 in this game, despite the fact that they had never won a playoff game in Chicago in franchise history and the Blackhawks hadn't lost at home yet in this year's playoffs.
To beat the Kings, opposing teams need to play a full 60-minute game. The Blackhawks had the Kings down, but they never finished them off and put them out.
Momentum Changed When the Kings Scored Late in the 2nd Period
Momentum of this game turned on Justin Williams' goal with 1:46 left in the second period.
By scoring late in the second period, the Kings disrupted the Blackhawks' previous dominance of the game.
The goal itself was a bit of a fluke, sliding past Corey Crawford, who was unable to follow the various deflections and funny bounces the puck took on the play.
When the teams went into the locker room for the second intermission, the Kings had a big boost of hope while the Blackhawks were facing questions about what happened.
The penalties Chicago took early in the third period reinforced the Kings' momentum and completed the turnaround.
The Kings Got Their Secondary Scoring
The Kings needed to get offensive production from sources other than Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik. In this game, they got plenty of it.
Los Angeles scored six times in the final 22 minutes of this game. While Kopitar and Gaborik were on the ice for the two power-play tallies, neither of them was on the ice for the other four goals L.A. scored.
Jeff Carter netted a hat trick in the third period. Tyler Toffoli, Jake Muzzin and Justin Williams also came through with scores. Tanner Pearson had a pair of assists.
Los Angeles was able to create offense without its top two offensive weapons contributing a lot. If it can continue to do that, its chances of winning the series increase dramatically.