Blackhawks drop Game 3 to Kings, 3-1
All the talk swirling around this series for the past two days has centered around the Kings' dominance at home. Through two series, Los Angeles has been 7-0 at home, despite a mostly-poor road performance.
In tonight's game at the Staples Center, the Blackhawks played like they expected the Kings to win. Unfortunately for them, it wasn't until the third period that they looked like they realized they didn't need to give the game away.
On the positive side: despite poor play for two periods, being out-shot (28-20; 60-40 once factoring in all shot attempts) and out-hit, despite being just 41% on the dot and 15 giveaways, the Blackhawks limited the Kings to a 2-1 game.
The Kings got on the board early with a Justin Williams shot at 3:21. Slava Voynov would stretch that to a 2-0 lead at 6:37 in the second.
Among the five penalties racked by Chicago on Tuesday night was a four minute double minor by Duncan Keith. Keith had lost one of his gloves, and when he went to scoop it up, Carter chopped at his bare hand. Carter's slash went unpenalized, but Keith's retaliatory stick caught Carter in the face. Carter needed stitches and post-game dental work. Keith's high-sticking is under league review.
Bryan Bickell would finally break the shutout for the Blackhawks by tucking in a goal on a wraparound curve.
Bickell's goal gave the Blackhawks life, and they played a far better third, outshooting the Kings and getting some very good looks at the net. However, they couldn't convert.
With Corey Crawford pulled for the extra attacker, Dwight King got an empty net goal with 28 seconds left, securing the Kings' win.
Chicago had their worst performance since game 4 vs. Detroit. After a good first minute, Los Angeles turned on the pressure, and the Blackhawks clearly got frustrated - Patrick Sharp even briefly dropped the gloves with Justin Williams.
Once again, goalie Corey Crawford made the difference in this game, keeping the game close despite being outshot nearly 2:1 in the first two periods. Crawford should get serious contention for Conn Smythe should the Blackhawks make it to the Final.
Patrick Kane was a ghost this game. Despite 20:12 of ice time, he only had 2 shots on goal (2 more blocked) and a giveaway to show for the night. Kane needs to return to a more aggressive style which has worked well for him this season.
Viktor Stalberg was limited to 8:33 TOI; Dave Bolland, 7:42, and Nick Leddy just 13:18. Patrick Sharp was the most noticeable on the ice, with over 17 minutes TOI, but not always in a good way, as he took two penalties.
In order to pull out a win on Thursday night, the Blackhawks need to refocus their game and return to what has worked for them in the past five games. They cannot allow the Kings' physical play to throw them off their game, or irritate them into taking penalties. If they were able to focus and succeed against the Red Wings' grabbing, physical play in round two, they can certainly do it against the Kings.
Three stars: 1) Slava Voynov - LAK; 2) Justin Williams - LAK; 3) Jeff Carter - LAK
Next game: Thursday, June 6 at Staples Center, Los Angeles, 8 p.m. CDT / 6 p.m. PDT
View game on: NBCSN, RDS, CBC; Chicago radio 97.9