Home ice hasn’t exactly been an advantage for the Los Angeles Kings this playoff year, entering game 3 of the Western Conference Final with a record of 3-3 at Staples Centre. However, when they are on their game, it doesn’t matter where the Kings play, they have the advantage.
The Kings got better as the game went on, and twice overcame deficits before taking the lead for good in the second period en route to a 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks and take a 2-1 series lead.
Jonathan Toews did his best to put the Hawks on his shoulders and will his club to a victory. He opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal, stripping the puck from Justin Williams in the neutral zone, tracking the loose puck down in the Kings end, faking a slapshot to open Jonathan Quick‘s legs and then sliding it 5 hole 5:26 into the period.
Toews re-established the Hawks advantage later in the period, picking up a rebound at the side of the Kings net and going skate to stick before jamming it past Quick to make it 2-1 Hawks through 20 minutes.
The Kings were outshot 10-4 in the second period, and gave up 3 power play opportunities, something that against the defending Stanley Cup Champions would be a recipe for disaster. But the Kings have a guy named Quick and another guy named Jeff Carter, and those two players took over and by the end of the period the Kings had scored twice to take a 3-2 lead. Carter evened the score, one-timing a pass from behind the net courtesy Tanner Pearson 8:08 in, and then sent Tyler Toffoli in alone for a nice backahand-forehand deke that beat Crawford to put the Kings in front for good with less than 6 minutes to go. The line of Pearson-Carter-Toffoli had combined for 6 goals and 12 points in their last 3 periods of hockey including the breakout third period of game 2.
Drew Doughty added a goal with just over 8 minutes left in the third, blasting a slapshot from the point, to give the Kings a 2 goal lead.
The Hawks pulled Crawford with 2:20 left to try and get the two goals back, but it wasn’t enough. Patrick Sharp did get the Blackhawks within 1, but there were only 5 seconds left when he tipped Nick Leddy‘s point shot over Quick’s shoulder and the comeback fell short.
The Los Angeles Kings will attempt to put the Hawks to the brink of elimination when they host game 4 on Monday night.