Jonathan Quick can make saves standing on his head, off-balance, out of position or even knocking the puck out of the air with his stick like a baseball slugger for all the Chicago Blackhawks care, so long as they sneak more pucks behind the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner than the Los Angeles Kings can get past Corey Crawford.
After winning a predictably tight series opener, Chicago looks to take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals as it hosts Los Angeles in a short turnaround Sunday night.
Quick was the playoff MVP while leading the Kings to the franchise's first Stanley Cup title last season, and he's been the talk of this year's playoffs as well. He entered this series with a 1.50 goals-against average and .948 save percentage in 13 playoff games while allowing more than two goals just twice.
He was stellar again in Game 1 on Saturday, recording 17 of his 34 saves in the first period. The Kings had only two shots in the first 20 minutes but held a 1-0 lead as Justin Williams took advantage of a Chicago turnover for his fifth goal of the playoffs.
Chicago finally broke through in the second as Patrick Sharp - who has eight playoff goals - potted a rebound, and Marian Hossa followed 3:53 later by deflecting Duncan Keith's point shot in the net to help the Blackhawks win 2-1.
"You need traffic. You need a deflection. He finds a way to find pucks," coach Joel Quenneville said of Quick. "I think the volume and traffic of shots is the only way to get to this guy.''
For all of Quick's success, he had just a 4.05 GAA while going 1-2-0 versus the Blackhawks in the regular season.
"If Quick's going to see it, he's going to stop it. If we can get a slight tip on it, I think it changes his view,'' said Bryan Bickell, who had an assist on Hossa's goal. "It was a nice tip by Hoss.''
Crawford made 21 saves to help the Blackhawks improve to 7-1 at home in the postseason. Thought to be the second-best goaltender in the series, he has more than held his own in the playoffs.
Crawford, who teamed with Ray Emery to earn the William Jennings Trophy as the goaltending tandem that allowed the fewest regular-season goals, entered the West final with a 1.70 GAA. He's allowed one goal in four of the last five games, including a 2-1 overtime victory over Detroit in Game 7 on Wednesday.
The Kings dropped to 1-6 on the road in the playoffs, with each defeat coming by a 2-1 score. Twelve of their 14 contests have been decided by one goal, while five of the Blackhawks' 13 have been decided by that margin.
"We've got to forget about this one right now, for sure,'' center Anze Kopitar said. "There's some stuff that's going to be addressed, what we have to do better in preparation.''
The back-to-back games - which may fatigue both teams after they needed the full seven games last round to advance - is a necessity since the Rolling Stones are playing a third concert at the United Center on Monday after playing there last Tuesday and Friday.
"It's always great when you win the first game, especially (in a) back-to-back (situation), (to) give you a little momentum,'' Hossa said. ``I felt like we did lots of good things. We know we have to be better (Sunday) and keep doing those things.''