Blackhawks take 3-1 series lead with 3-2 Game 4 win
With the Blackhawks out of Duncan Keith's services for the evening on Thursday night, other players were going to have to step up in a big way.
Unfortunately for Sheldon Brookbank, he wasn't the solution, going -2 and logging just 6:50 of ice time. In comparison, the only forward even close to him in minutes was Viktor Stalberg at 8:47.
However, Johnny Oduya, Michal Rozsival, and Niklas Hjalmarsson were very noticeable in a good way for the game, making up for the missing Keith. Between them, they were +4 with 3 assists, 4 hits and 4 blocked shots.
Once again, the Kings were first on the board, with a goal by Slava Voynov just 3:28 into the game. Bryan Bickell would even things up ten minutes later.
Los Angeles took the lead back early in the second with a Dustin Penner goal to make it 2-1. Corey Crawford had a slow clear, perhaps anticipating one of his own defensemen to be there, but Penner was on the doorstep, stole the puck, and snagged the goal.
After an uneven start in the first, the Blackhawks found their game i the second, increasing pressure on the Kings and starting crash the net. A solid blast from Niklas Hjalmarsson was tipped by Bryan Bickell and Patrick Kane made sure Quick couldn't stop it to make it 2-2 with 1:39 left in the second.
Marian Hossa would salt the game away just 1:10 into the third, with a beautiful play jump-started with a pass by Johnny Oduya, and a second pass from Michael Handzus to Hossa making it 3-2.
Los Angeles showed fatigue in the third, making bad turnovers and allowing Chicago more time in their zone than they've seen in most of two games. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks seemed to just be waking up, smothering the Kings' chances, limiting them to just 2 SOG.
The Blackhawks had 28 SOG plus 17 attempted shots to the Kings' 21 (11). The Kings outhit them 31-17 and beat them 56% on the dot, but they also had a lot of giveaways. The toll that two 7-game rounds took on the team is finally starting to show. Aside from Jonathan Quick, their top noticeable players right now are Jeff Carter, Dustin Penner, and rookie Tyler Toffoli.
Chicago was able to do what nobody else had done since March 21, 2013: beat the Kings on their home ice. Now Los Angeles will hope to do the same at the United Center.
While the Kings are battered, their heads are as yet unbowed. The defending champs will be certain to bring a desperate, leave-it-all-on-the-ice effort on Saturday night in Chicago. The Blackhawks need to stay focused on game 5, and not look ahead to the possibility of making the Final quite yet.
Three stars of the game: 1) Patrick Kane - CHI; 2) Marian Hossa - CHI; 3) Dustin Penner - LAK
Injury report: Duncan Keith will be back in Chicago's lineup after missing tonight with a suspension; the Kings may have Mike Richards back after he missed two games with a concussion.
The series returns to the United Center in Chicago on Saturday June 8th, at 7:00 p.m. CDT.
Broadcast info: NBC, CBC, RDS; Radio: WGN 720