Keith: Hawks must stay out of penalty box

May, 24, 2014
May 24
11:17
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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LOS ANGELES -- Penalties are beginning to haunt the Chicago Blackhawks for the first time in the playoffs, and Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith has already seen enough of it.

The Blackhawks took three penalties Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals, and two of them were costly. The Kings scored a power-play goal off the first penalty in the first period and scored two seconds after a penalty expired in the third period. Los Angeles would win Game 3 by a 4-3 score to take a 2-1 series advantage.

[+] EnlargeSlava Voynov
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesSlava Voynov cashed in a power-play chance for the Kings' first goal in Game 3.
“I think it is [a discipline issue],” Keith said. “There’s no other way to put it, really. We have to stay out of the box, and it’s frustrating. We’ve talked about it. They’re just penalties we can’t take. I know sometimes there’s penalties we have to take. Sometimes it’s an accident or not. They seem to be scoring on the power play. They got a lot of good players out there -- [Marian] Gaborik, [Anze] Kopitar, [Mike] Richards, [Jeff] Carter, [Drew] Doughty. We've just got to stay out of the box.”

The Blackhawks’ three penalties Saturday were on Michal Handzus, for closing his hand on the puck after falling to the ice in the first period; Nick Leddy, for hooking early in the third period; and Michal Rozsival for high-sticking later in the final period after he struck the Kings’ Kyle Clifford in the face with his stick.

The Blackhawks were getting away with being called for such penalties through 13 playoff games. Through their first two series, against the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild, and the first game against the Kings, Chicago had allowed an average of 3.5 power plays per game. Despite allowing 46 power plays during that span, the Blackhawks gave up just four power-play goals.

The Kings have halted the Blackhawks’ penalty-kill success the past two games. Los Angeles scored twice on four power-play chances in Game 2 and added a third one by going 1-for-3 in Game 3.

Keith didn’t put the blame on the penalty kill.

“It seems like all playoffs we’ve been taking too many penalties,” Keith said. “Penalty kill did a good job. Without a penalty kill, we wouldn’t even be this far.”

Keith believed the issue was fixable, but he and his teammates needed to follow through with it.

“We know better,” Keith said. “Just do the job. Stay out of the box ... everybody, me too. I’ve taken penalties throughout these playoffs. That’s what it is right now. We just got to stay out of the box.”
Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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