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updated: 6/1/2014 1:04 AM

Special teams finally special for Blackhawks

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By Brian Hedger
Special to the Daily Herald

Each of the Blackhawks' special teams struggled in Games 2, 3 and 4 of the Western Conference finals, all losses to the Los Angeles Kings.

But they found a cure in the last two games.

After going 1-for-11 on the power play and stopping just five of 10 Kings power plays in 3 straight defeats, the Hawks got back on track in Games 5 and 6, winning both to even the series heading into Game 7 on Sunday night at the United Center.

The Hawks went 1-for-4 on the power play and killed off all three Kings advantages in a Game 5 double-overtime victory at home before scoring another power-play goal on two chances in Game 6, a 4-3 come-from-behind win.

"It always creates momentum for our offensive game," said Andrew Shaw, who plays in front of the net on the top power-play unit. "To score those big power-play goals and go ahead in the game, or tie games, it's huge.

"I think the guys have been clicking pretty well the last few games. We've just got to keep that simple mentality, getting the puck to the net with traffic."

Hjalmarsson still seething:

Last season's conference semifinals against the Detroit Red Wings, which unfolded almost identically to this one against the Kings, was nearly won late in regulation of Game 7 at the United Center by a disallowed goal scored by Hjalmarsson.

The Hawks won in overtime on Brent Seabrook's goal and won the 2013 Stanley Cup, but the Swedish defenseman still gets a daily reminder of that anger-inducing call.

"I still have a mark in my stall from the (overtime) intermission," he said Saturday, after arriving at O'Hare from Los Angeles. "It reminds me every day I go to my stall. Hopefully I can get one of those allowed."

Asked what did the damage, a stick or fist, Hjalmarsson smirked.

"No comment," he said.

Impressed by the defense:

Kings coach Darryl Sutter was asked Saturday if there was a part of the Blackhawks' team that gets overshadowed by all the talk of stars such as Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and others.

His answer was the Hawks' defense corps, which is comprised of skilled puck movers who also can shut things down defensively.

"They don't get enough credit," Sutter said. "One guy, Duncan Keith, gets a lot of credit -- as he should -- and he'll probably win the Norris Trophy. But that's a pretty good group right there.

"If you've got them six hooked onto a wagon, they're going to pull the wagon all the way to Peoria from here."

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