Back Home, Kings Cut Hawks’ Lead
The Los Angeles Kings returned home Tuesday, and returned to winning ways in the process.
Down 0-2 in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals, the Kings played tough defense to get the better of the Chicago Blackhawks, defeating the Presidents’ Trophy-winning side 3-1.
The Kings are now 8-0 when playing at Staples Center this postseason. Game 4 is scheduled to take place at the arena in Downtown Los Angeles on Thursday (9:00 pm ET).
After losses in Games 1 and 2 in Chicago, the Los Angeles Kings welcomed a change of scenery as the series switched to Southern California. It was a different Kings’ side that came with the new scenery.
Kept off the puck for much of the opening games, the Kings took control of Game 3, limiting Chicago’s possession, commanding the faceoff, and taking care of the puck. The Kings earned a 34-24 edge on the faceoff while forcing seven takeaways.
Justin Williams opened scoring just 3:21 into the first period. Williams’ sixth goal of the postseason beat Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford and gave the Kings their first lead since the opening period of Game 1.
Kings’ defenseman Slava Voyanov doubled the lead 6:37 into the second period, registering his fifth goal of the postseason.
The Blackhawks record just three shots in the second period, but one managed to get past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. Bryan Bickell registered his seventh goal of the postseason at the 19:26 mark of the second, putting the Hawks right back in the game.
The Kings defense and goaltending held up for the remainder of the game though. Quick made a big stop against Jonathan Toews with just over a minute left on the clock, preventing the game reaching overtime.
The Kings added an empty-netter – Dwight King’s first of the postseason – with 0:28 seconds left to put the game out of reach.
Chicago was limited to just 20 shots on goal during the game, fewer than in both Game 1 (36) and Game 2 (26). 10 of those came in the third period after an anemic opening 40 minutes.
“I just don’t think we had the pace and the speed to our game that we usually have,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews told the Chicago Tribune.
“If we do that, we’ll get more offensive chances and we’ll do the things we have to do to score.”
While the Blackhawks are trending downwards in shots taken, the Kings are heading upwards. After registering just 22 shots in Game 1 and 26 shots in Game 2, Los Angeles tallied 28 in Game 3.
The win marked the second time this postseason that the Kings have won a Game 3 after trailing 0-2. In the opening round, the side defeated the St. Louis Blues 1-0 in Game 3 before going on to win the following three. The Blackhawks – who themselves came back from a two-game deficit in the semifinals against the Detroit Red Wings – will look to stop the Kings doing the same in this round.
Betting against the Kings at home currently looks like a fool’s game, but home ice won’t be enough to see the Los Angeles side through to the Stanley Cup finals.
At some point, the Kings need to record a win on the road. A 1-7 postseason record away from Staples Center is clear indication of how tough that particular task has been for the Kings so far this spring. In addition, with an 8-1 record at United Center, the Blackhawks aren’t exactly pushovers.
Game 3 saw the total (4 1/2) go under for the second time this series. Both Chicago (4-7-4) and Los Angeles (4-12-0) have favored the under this postseason. In fact, the defensive-minded Kings have seen the total go under in seven of the last eight games.
At 2-1, the series matches the regular season head-to-head. The two sides split a pair of games at United Center while the Blackhawks took a win at Staples Center in the season-opener. Another win in Los Angeles will put the Kings against the ropes.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Los Angeles Kings odds for 6/6/13 (Game 4) will be available shortly.