Proof 2-0 is a most dangerous lead

— -- CHICAGO -- There was a simmering anger in the Chicago Blackhawks' dressing room Wednesday night.

The kind of anger that resides just under the surface, the kind a team doesn't want to reveal after Game 2 in a best-of-seven series. The kind a team doesn't have to when it's the defending Stanley Cup champs.

But the Blackhawks' strange 6-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings, which tied the Western Conference finals at 1-all, is the kind of game that burns the most because, simply, it should not have happened.

Not to a Chicago team that has forged its reputation on not losing playoff games it should win.

"The way it turned on a dime like that," said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, "I don't think we've seen a game like that all year where we're doing everything right and then all of a sudden it's a disaster."

Quenneville called his team's first 38 minutes "perfect."

It was 2-0 Blackhawks at that point. Some say that's the most dangerous lead in hockey, simultaneously giving the team in the lead just the smallest margin of comfort, while filling the trailing team with a sense of urgency that's hard to manufacture.

The only trouble with that theory is that the Blackhawks had several chances to extend their lead to 3-0, including the most glaring opportunity on a two-on-one in which Kris Versteeg fed Brent Seabrook for a shot from the right wing that Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick turned away.

There were about 13 minutes left in the second at that time and, as Quenneville saw it, "We had a couple of real nice looks, but we're still fine at 2-0."

Kings coach Darryl Sutter looked at it considerably differently when it was suggested that Quick's save of Seabrook's attempt was the turning point in the game.

"I don't think there was necessarily one turning point," he said. "I think killing the five-on-three in the first, not going away when the score is 2-0, scoring one late in the second, scoring a goal early in the third."


The Hawks gave away their home-ice advantage -- not with six straight Kings goals starting from late in the second period, but with a slow hemorrhage that began in the first with that cardinal sin of not scoring on a two-man advantage.

The Kings would pull to within 2-1 on a goal Quenneville called "an innocent play" -- a pass by Mike Richards that deflected off Justin Williams' skate and past Corey Crawford at 18:14.

The beginning of the end? It sure shouldn't have been, said Jonathan Toews.

"You're bound to give up something, but just because they score a goal to pull within one doesn't mean they have to score six unanswered," he said.

In the Kings' dressing room at intermission, Sutter apparently gave a pep talk for the ages by not saying much at all, a sure sign, said L.A. defenseman Drew Doughty, that he was especially angry.

And when he did speak? "At some point," Sutter told his team, "they're going to lose a game at home."

Two unnecessary penalties by the Hawks early in the third, two L.A. goals and, well, the rest doesn't matter.

The Hawks, whose offensive defensemen had been brilliant through half the game -- beating L.A. on the odd-man rush, which is not a normal occurrence against the Kings -- were powerless to prevent that from happening to themselves from then on.

"All of a sudden, now we have to press and open it up, and it played into their hands," Quenneville said.

It marked the first playoff loss at home for the Blackhawks this year and the first playoff win for the Kings in Chicago.

It also marked the most goals allowed by the Blackhawks in a playoff game since a 6-1 defeat to the Detroit Red Wings in May 2009.

"It was a closer game than it said on the scoreboard," Crawford said.

Toews said the Hawks were "ticked off" at letting this one slip away at home, and well they should be.

But it's early. The anger merely simmered. They know better than to let a series evaporate like a 2-0 lead.

"It's a tough game, disappointing. It's frustrating. We're not very happy with the result and how things played out," Hawks winger Patrick Sharp said. "Hopefully we can take something from this game and use it as a positive for Game 3."