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Studs and Duds from Kings-Blackhawks Game 2

by Photo of Gil Santos

Jeff Carters notches a hat trick and leads the Kings in a comeback victory to tie the series up 1-1.

Studs and Duds from Kings-Blackhawks Game 2

Last night in Game Two of the NHL Western Conference Finals, the Chicago Blackhawks missed out on a huge opportunity while the Los Angeles Kings proved once again how resilient they are. 

The Blackhawks were in control for much of the first two periods. They jumped out ahead to an early 2-0 lead with goals from Nick Leddy and Ben Smith. They weren't giving the Kings any room to create offense and they neutralized their forecheck. They won all the puck battles and frustrated the Kings with their quickness. The Blackhawks were well on their way to a 2-0 series lead heading into Los Angeles.

But a fluky goal from Justin Williams late in the second period got the ball rolling for the Kings and commenced the collapse of the Blackhawks. The Kings capitalized on two dumb penalties from the Blackhawks and scored five unanswered goals to even up the series at one a piece. They break a six-game losing streak against the Blackhawks, dating back to Game 4 of last year's Western Conference Finals. They also hand the Blackhawks their first home loss of this year's playoffs. 

Here are the Studs and Duds of Game 2:

Studs

1. Jeff Carter: Carter recorded his second hat trick of his playoff career and also grabbed an assist on Tyler Toffoli's goal. His first tally was the equalizer early in the third period. On a power play, Carter set up shop in front of the net and deflected Drew Doughty's wrist shot from the point. At 14:44, he scored his second and the Kings' fifth goal of the night. Following a turnover by the Blackhawks' in the offensive zone, Carter went on a breakaway and beat Corey Crawford blocker side. He then completed the hat trick after he broke up a play in the neutral zone and sent the puck into the empty net.

2. Jake Muzzin: Muzzin has been an absolute stud for the Kings this season. The 25-year-old defenseman continued his strong playoffs as he scored the eventual game-winning goal in the third period. After the Blackhawks committed a "too many men on the ice" penalty, Muzzin made them play with a rocket slap shot from the left circle. It was Muzzin's fourth goal of the playoffs and he has complied eight points thus far this postseason. He also blocked four shots and was a plus-2. 

3. Jonathan Quick: To no one's surprise, Quick once again bounced back from a mediocre performance. Quick stopped 23 of 25 shots and made a humongous save on Brent Seabrook on a two-on-one in the second period, which could have made it 3-0. Thanks to Quick, the Kings were able to hang around until they finally exploded with six unanswered goals. 

4. Brandon Saad: Saad's speed and skill were on display in Game 2. He drew two penalties with two beautiful moves on Matt Greene and Drew Doughty. While he did not get on the scoresheet, his possession numbers proved how effective he was for the Blackhawks. He led the team in Corsi For percentage with 76.5%, meaning when he was on the ice during even strength, his team attempted 76.5% of the shots. 

Duds

1. Corey Crawford: Crawford has been rock solid between the pipes for the Blackhawks, but last night wasn't his night. Crawford wasn't very good as he allowed five goals on 30 shots and there were saves he should have made, especially Carter's second goal. It was night to forget for Crawford, but you can count on him to come back strong in Game 3.

2. Matt Greene: Greene's first appearance in this series for the Kings was a rough one. He was inserted into the line-up in place of Jeff Schultz, who played below-average in Game 1, but Greene wasn't much better. Greene was beaten like a drum in the first two periods. First, Brandon Saad faked him out of his skates and forced him to take a hooking penalty that gave the Blackhawks a 5-on-3. Then, Nick Leddy blew past him for the first goal of the game on a power play. 

3. Brandon Bollig: Bollig recorded an assist in the game, but his interference penalty against Toffoli proved costly as the Kings went on to the tie the game on the ensuing power play. Bollig's undisciplined play gave the Kings all the momentum and they rode it all the way to six goals and the victory. 

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