It was a wrist shot for Andrew Shaw, who leaned back and yelled after his first-period score. Brent Seabrook got in on the action, and Bryan Bickell and Michal Handzus added two more goals on consecutive shots in the second.
And just like that, Jonathan Quick was gone.
The Chicago Blackhawks chased the Los Angeles Kings’ standout goalie during an impressive display in the opening two periods of a 4-2 victory Sunday night in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.
”It’s a high-speed game. If we use our speed, we’ll be all right,” Shaw said. ”We played our game. That’s the difference. The guys played good. We all competed for each other. We did everything we needed to do, keeping it deep in the zone.”
Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad added two assists apiece as the Blackhawks grabbed a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series with their fifth consecutive victory. Corey Crawford made 29 saves in another solid performance, drawing chants of ”Co-rey! Co-rey!” from the capacity crowd at the United Center.
”We went through a little spurt there in the last series where we were doing the right things but the pucks weren’t going in,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. ”So now we’re getting the results we want. We can do what we’re doing more often. We can do it better as well in the next few games.”
Game 3 is Tuesday night at Los Angeles, where the Kings have won 14 consecutive games, dating to the regular season. The Kings also lost their first two games of the playoffs at St. Louis before winning four straight to eliminate the Blues in the first round.
Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli scored for Los Angeles, but the Kings struggled to score without Mike Richards, who was scratched because of an undisclosed upper body injury. The defending Stanley Cup champions have 29 goals in 15 postseason games.
”You’ve got to find a way,” Quick said. ”They did their job at home. We’ve got to go home and do our job now.”
Richards, who leads the Kings with 10 playoff points, was sidelined after taking a big hit from Dave Bolland in the final minutes of the Blackhawks’ 2-1 victory on Saturday.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter said Richards was ”fine” a couple of hours before the game, but the center was scratched from the lineup after participating in the pregame warmups.
”He was fine today, then I think just once his blood got pumping tonight, the adrenaline got going, there were symptoms,” Sutter said. ”I went in right after warmup, he was sitting there and I said, ‘Unless you’re 100 percent, you’re not playing.”’
Los Angeles forward Brad Richardson and defenseman Drew Doughty gingerly skated off at separate points of the first period, but both returned to the ice.
The series took on a more physical tone in the second game in two days – a rarity in the playoffs brought on by The Rolling Stones’ tour.
The top-seeded Blackhawks also won the series opener in each of the first two rounds, but they dropped three in a row following their Game 1 victory against Detroit in the conference semifinals.
There was no such letdown this time.
”It was frustrating early on, that series against Detroit, but I think we learned a lot there,” defenseman Duncan Keith said.
Shaw got Chicago off to a fast start, taking a nifty pass from Viktor Stalberg and beating Quick on the glove side just 1:56 into the game. Marian Hossa set up Seabrook in the final minute for a low liner into the left corner of the net. The defenseman put the Blackhawks into this round with an overtime goal in Game 7 against Detroit on Wednesday.
The Blackhawks added two more in the second, separated by just 2:09. Bickell scored a power-play goal on a rebound in front, and Handzus skated in and beat Quick to make it 4-0 at 9:20.
”We gave them too many Grade-A scoring chances, and they capitalized,” Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi said. ”You can’t give up those opportunities and expect your goalie to bail you out every single time.”
The crowd of 21,824 roared after Handzus’ second goal of the postseason, and cheered even louder when Quick skated off and was replaced by Jonathan Bernier. Quick, last year’s playoff MVP who had played every minute of this year’s playoffs, finished with 13 saves.
”We had some nice shots. We had some high-quality stuff off the rush, as well, in that period,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. ”I still think that’s going to be an ongoing challenge with him.”
Carter converted a one-timer at 18:57 of the second, and Toffoli netted a power-play goal with 1:02 left in the game, but that was it for the Kings.
The Blackhawks killed three other power plays and have allowed just two goals in 47 attempts in the playoffs.
Crawford was saluted by the crowd after he stopped Dustin Penner on a quality opportunity late in the second, and the chants resumed when he pulled Kings forward Kyle Clifford off Toews during a scrum with 8:45 left.
”The guy grabbed him, got a couple free shots. I figured it was enough,” Crawford said. ”I just decided to go in there and grab his head.”
Crawford was one of the top goalies in the NHL during the lockout-shortened regular season, and he has carried that into the playoffs. He has allowed just one goal in four of his last six games.
”He’s the guy we want in net back there,” Sharp said. ”He’s proven it in the past. It’s nice to see him finally get the credit that he deserves.”
NOTES: Kings rookie D Jake Muzzin was scratched after playing in the first 14 postseason games. … Crawford was 1-1 with a 3.54 goals-against average against Los Angeles during the regular season.