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Blackhawks look for another 2-0 lead against Kings

by Brian Hedger


(Chicago leads best-of-7 series 1-0)


Big story: The Chicago Blackhawks are looking to do exactly what they did to the Los Angeles Kings a year ago in the Western Conference Final by winning the first two games at United Center and taking that lead to Staples Center.

"Whether we have winning records against certain teams we play in the regular season and we get a chance to play them in the [Stanley Cup Playoffs], we have always done a good job of disregarding that past, because we know it doesn't mean a whole heck of a lot," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "Same goes for this series. What happened last year is last year and what happened this season is really meaningless. It was a tough first game (a 3-1 win) and we expect it to be tougher [Wednesday]. That's all that really matters, who's the better team [in Game 2]."

Team Scope:

Kings: Los Angeles learned in Game 1 what the Minnesota Wild learned in the Western Conference Second Round. Even though the Kings led in shots 26-20 and outshot the Blackhawks 17-6 in the second period, they trailed by two goals in the waning moments of the third.

Minnesota outshot and out-chanced Chicago in four of its six games in that series, including a 35-27 margin in Game 6 at Xcel Energy Center, and still came up short. The Blackhawks are capable of dominating the puck and putting up a lot of shots, but the defending Stanley Cup champions have been more opportunistic thus far in the postseason.

The Kings have to keep pressure on Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford but not allow the quick-strike rush attack to beat them at the other end of the rink, particularly when Chicago's top line is on the ice.

"I think it's a give and take," said Dustin Brown, who's playing left wing on the Kings' top line. "We have to find a way to generate really good offensive chances for our team as well as try to shut down that [top] line. It's a big challenge, but it's something we're going to have to do, not only us three (with Marian Gaborik and Anze Kopitar) but when it comes to matchups, it's a five-man, six-man game."

Blackhawks: It took Chicago six games to defeat Minnesota in the second round, but overlooked in the effort was its play on the defensive end. The Blackhawks' goal is to keep playing as sound defensively in front of Crawford, who's elevated his game.

"People, maybe, looked at the way we played in the Minnesota series [like] we weren't playing at the level of what our expectations were," coach Joel Quenneville said. "But I was very happy and comfortable with the way we had to play to be successful, and getting the job done against a real good team was what we were looking for. I think guys progressed in the series and how we progress in the new series, you've got to escalate your level of play."

Who's hot: Kings forward Jeff Carter has points in four of the past six games (two goals, four assists) and assisted on the goal in Game 1. … Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa had two assists in Game 1 and has points in seven of the past 10 games (two goals, 10 assists).

Injury report: Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr (undisclosed) hasn't started skating and there is no timetable for his return. … Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw (lower body) took part in a 45-minute practice Tuesday and said he's ready to play. Shaw has missed six games since being injured in Game 1 of the second round.

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