Sunday night's Game 2 of the Western Conference Final completes a very rare situation in the history of the NHL. This is the first time back-to-back games have happened in a conference final since May 16-17, 2004. San Jose and Calgary went back-to-back in Games 4 and 5 of their series. Each team won one game in the other's building during that two-day experiment. Games 1 and 2 of the 2013 Western Final will have both happened at the United Center, but the Los Angeles Kings will look for the same result after losing Game 1.
It was an odd game on Saturday night in Chicago, in that the score grew progressively worse for the Kings as they started playing better hockey. No King in their right mind would argue that the first period was the shining moment of the playoffs for them, getting outshot 17-2, but they got a lucky bounce off a Dave Bolland turnover, which made it 1-0 Los Angeles at the end of one period.
The Kings played a lot better in period two, and were probably the better team in period three. They were outshot just 14-12 by the Blackhawks in the second, and they outshot Chicago 8-5 in the third. The Hawks just found two of the ways that you can beat Jonathan Quick: big rebounds and impossible deflections. Despite playing as fantastically as he usually does (34 saves), Quick emerged the loser.
Game 2, however, is most certainly up for grabs. It's not as if the Kings aren't used to playing 2-1 hockey games. Eight of their first 14 games of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs have been by that score. If things stay low-scoring then the Kings stand a decent shot at winning, because they have Quick in net. The Blackhawks and their goaltender, Corey Crawford, appear poised to play it just the same way.
Can Corey Crawford keep it going?
Although he wasn't tested nearly as much as Quick (21 saves in Game 1), Corey Crawford continues to be the goalie the Hawks need in this postseason. His stats speak for themselves: 9-4 with a 1.65 goals against and a .939 save percentage. Only Quick has been better in the latter two statistics among all goalies this post-season. The Hawks will probably need a big game out of Crawford before the series is over, and that will be a test, but for now he's simply doing what is needed of him.
Would somebody other than Justin Williams mind scoring for the Kings?
The last player not named Justin Williams to score a goal for the Los Angeles Kings was Dustin Brown. This was 13:53 into the second period of Game 6 against San Jose. The Kings have gone over 146 minutes of hockey time without anyone potting one, other than the three Williams has between Game 7 of the conference semis and Game 1 of the conference final. Obviously, somebody else needs to step up for the Kings, or this will be a very short series.
Will the Hawks defense continue to contribute offensively?
You kind of take it for granted given the names back there, but how good is the Hawks' defense on the offensive side of things? Johnny Oduya and Duncan Keith directly helped create both of the two goals Chicago scored on Saturday. This, of course, follows up Brent Seabrook's overtime winner in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals. Niklas Hjalmarsson and Nick Leddy are also terrific offensive defensemen. They help pack a huge offensive punch for Chicago.
Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Network, TSN