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Lesson learned, Blackhawks brace for Kings' best shot in Game 2

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Two weeks ago, the Blackhawks were coming off a surprisingly easy Game 1 victory with a chance to take a commanding lead of their second-round series against the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center.

Detroit won Game 4-1, and the series was on.

The Hawks hope to learn from that experience tonight in Game 2 of the Western Conference final against the Los Angeles Kings, whom they handled with relative ease in a 2-1 Game 1 win Saturday night.

"We have to build off it, we have to not be satisfied with being up 1-0," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said Sunday morning. "We want to keep control of the series. These home games are huge. We didn't really do that in the last series and we kind of put ourselves in a tough spot. So that's something we can learn from."

Back-to-backs are nothing new for the Hawks, who played 12 of them in the compressed regular season. In those games, the Hawks went 10-1-1 -- the lone regulation loss coming in the season finale at St. Louis, when most of their starters stayed home to rest up for the playoffs.

"We're excited to have the chance to get right back into it," Toews said. "[But] to make any comparisons to the regular season never really means a whole lot to us."

Game 1 was a physical affair, but the Hawks are bracing for a significant escalation. In the final two minutes, Dave Bolland leveled Mike Richards with a borderline hit -- the NHL said there would be no disciplinary action against Bolland -- and Dustin Brown delivered a hard hit to Toews while the Hawks ran out the clock with a game-closing power play.

"We want to make sure we're playing hard within the whistles," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Make sure we're smart, but bring it. ... We just want to make sure we're smart, and disciplined. Staying out of the box is a priority."

Toews shrugged off the big hit by Brown.

"I just think they were maybe a little frustrated that we were just moving the puck around on the outside with not even two minutes left to go in the game, just trying to kill time on the power play," Toews said. "Kind of expect him to do something like that. We just got to be aware of when they're going to try and be physical on us."

So the Hawks expect the Kings to be playing with more physicality than they were in Game 1, playing with more urgency than they did in Game 1, and playing with more fire than they did in Game 1.

In other words, they expect the Kings to be a whole lot better than they were in Game 1.

"Same as what Detroit did," Bryan Bickell said. "I don't think Detroit was happy with the first game, and I don't think L.A. is, either."

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Mark Lazerus was honored nationally by the Associated Press Sports Editors for three straight years at the Post-Tribune, was named one of the top three columnists in Indiana for three straight years and has won more than 20 statewide writing awards. He has covered Notre Dame for Sun-Times Media, and now covers the Blackhawks.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Lazerus published on June 2, 2013 11:56 AM.

Hossa, Sharp come through with big goals in Game 1 was the previous entry in this blog.

Kings' Richards a surprise scratch in Game 2 vs. Blackhawks is the next entry in this blog.

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