CHICAGO -- At least the Los Angeles Kings weren't fooling themselves when they took a 1-0 into the first intermission of Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday afternoon.
They played poorly, were outshot 17-2, yet still found themselves ahead. It was a precursor to the rest of the afternoon, as the Kings never got on track in an eventual 2-1 loss. Coach Darryl Sutter was asked how he reacted after the opening 20 minutes.
"Like normal," Sutter quipped afterward. "You should say, 'How did you feel?' Fortunate," he said answering his own question.
It usually takes a really poor performance when a team is frustrated with the lead like that -- and the Kings lived up to it. They got slightly better as the game went along, but their scoring chances were few and far between after that first tally.
"I thought it was a little flat on both sides for sure," forward Colin Fraser said. "A little feeling-out process. It did pick up. They picked it up, anyway."
After Brad Richardson made a nice block on a clearing pass by Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, Justin Williams was able to get just the second -- and last -- shot of the opening period past Crawford. In between their two attempts on net, the Hawks simply controlled play. And it carried over to the middle period where the Hawks scored twice.
"I thought we were making progress as we went along," Sutter said. "We had guys fall off. Shifts fell off primarily from the top end of our lineup."
Two shots in the first morphed into 12 in the second, but by then the Kings were trailing 2-1. They came with some pushback in the third, until Jeff Carter took a tripping penalty with 1:41 left in the game, sealing the win for Chicago.
"We were turning too many pucks over, trying to be too fancy," Fraser said. "Trying to create too much. Especially on the road. We talk about being successful at home and not on the road, the old cliché, maybe keep it simpler on the road. Our first period [Sunday] has to be simpler."
You might wonder how the Kings don't know this by now. Averaging just 1.5 goals per game on the road in the postseason so far, their record dropped to 1-6 away from Staples Center. This after being road warriors last year on the way to winning their first Stanley Cup. Without home-ice advantage in this series, something will have to change for the Kings to defend their title.
"We got a lucky goal, right? We were fortunate to be up 1-0," Fraser said.
And that would be the end of the Kings good fortune for the day.