Hawks' penalty kill keying playoff run

CHICAGO -- The importance of the Chicago Blackhawks' penalty kill during the playoffs can be understood by their lone failure.

The only power-play goal the Blackhawks have allowed through two series and 12 playoff games came against the Detroit Red Wings in Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinal series. That goal was costly as it decided the game. The Red Wings won 2-0 with their second goal coming on an empty-netter.

In the playoffs, where goals are at a premium and close games are the norm, the Blackhawks have advanced past two teams and are moving onto the Western Conference finals because their playoff penalty kill has been one of the NHL's best in the past 15 years.

The Blackhawks have given up one goal in 41 power plays for a 97.6 penalty-kill percentage. Only the Detroit Red Wings in 2003 and the Montreal Canadiens in 2011 have had better percentages dating back to the 1998 playoffs. The Red Wings were 14-for-14 on the penalty kill in four games, and the Canadiens were 21-for-21 in seven games.

Of the teams that have played 10-or-more playoff games in the past 15 seasons, the 2004 Red Wings (96.0 percent in 12 games) and the 2000 New Jersey Devils (92.5 percent in 23 games) compare to what the Blackhawks have done in the playoffs so far.

The Blackhawks were perfect on the penalty kill in their first-round series against the Minnesota Wild. They killed off all 17 power plays, including six in Game 4, in five games against the Wild.

The Blackhawks' penalty-kill streak reached 30 consecutive power plays before allowing their first goal. The first one also came with one second remaining on a penalty in the second period of Game 4 against the Red Wings. Since then, the Blackhawks have killed off 10 consecutive power plays. All together, the Blackhawks have been on the penalty kill for 76:09 of ice time in the playoffs.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville acknowledged how vital his penalty kill has been to the team's success after it held the Red Wings scoreless on two power plays in the Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime win in Game 7 on Wednesday.

"Talk about the penalty killers throughout the playoffs, the season," Quenneville said. "It starts with [goaltender Corey Crawford.] You can talk about the defense, and [Michael Frolik] and [Marcus Kruger] start a lot of them. Doing the right things, improvising, changing along the way as teams evolve, the difference in schemes in playoff series and in games as well. [The victories were] deserved by the job the PK did in the series for sure."