- Associated Press - Monday, June 3, 2013

CHICAGO — There’s a sign in the hallway that runs from the home locker room to the ice at the United Center. It says “EARN IT,” and it was sure hard to argue that the Chicago Blackhawks haven’t done just that during an impressive start to the Western Conference finals.

Bryan Bickell and Michal Handzus scored on consecutive shots in the second period, and Chicago chased goalie Jonathan Quick on its way to a 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 2 on Sunday night.

Andrew Shaw and Brent Seabrook also scored as the rolling Blackhawks grabbed a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series with their fifth consecutive victory. Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad had two assists apiece, and Corey Crawford made 29 saves in another solid performance.

“It’s a high-speed game. If we use our speed, we’ll be all right,” Shaw said. “We played our game. That’s the difference. The guys played good. We all competed for each other. We did everything we needed to do, keeping it deep in the zone.”

Game 3 is Tuesday night at Los Angeles, where the Kings have won 14 consecutive games dating to the regular season. The Kings also lost their first two games of the playoffs at St. Louis before winning four straight to eliminate the Blues in the first round.

Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli had goals for Los Angeles, but the Kings struggled to score without Mike Richards, who was scratched because of an undisclosed upper body injury. The defending Stanley Cup champions have 29 goals in 15 postseason games.

“We’ve just got to do a better job of playing our game,” Los Angeles defenseman Robyn Regehr said. “First of all, we’ve got to be really clean coming out of our zone, make good short little plays and support one another. Once we do that, we’ll do a better job coming out of the neutral zone, because these guys really rely on turnovers.”

Richards, who leads the Kings with 10 playoff points, was sidelined after taking a big hit from Dave Bolland in the final minutes of the Blackhawks’ 2-1 victory on Saturday.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter said Richards was “fine” a couple of hours before the game, but the center was scratched from the lineup after participating in pregame warm-ups.

“I think just once his blood got pumping tonight, the adrenaline got going, there were symptoms,” Sutter said. “I went in right after warm-up, he was sitting there and I said, ‘Unless you’re 100 percent, you’re not playing.’”

The series took on a more physical tone in the second game in two days — a playoff rarity brought on by The Rolling Stones’ tour.

The top-seeded Blackhawks also won the series opener in each of the first two rounds, but they dropped three in a row following their Game 1 victory against Detroit in the conference semifinals.

There was no such letdown this time.

“This time of year you try to carry momentum as long as you can,” Sharp said. “Every game presents different challenges. We felt great about coming back in that Detroit series. Game 7 was a huge high for us. That seems like a long time ago now. We’re past that and we’re focused on the Kings.”

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