Hawks-Kings Game 3
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BEVERLY HILLS – The Staples Center has been a beautiful place for the Los Angeles Kings. Their United Center, if you will. Maybe it’s not quite a madhouse, but for the Kings, it’s been a sweet place to be, especially this postseason.
For the Chicago Blackhawks, it’s another place they need to win at to keep this postseason going. And as far as facing another hostile crowd, another team with the house on its side, so be it.
The Blackhawks are looking to do what no one else has done this postseason: beat the Kings at Staples Center. Los Angeles is 7-0 there this postseason – they have a 14-0 run dating back through the late regular season – but the Blackhawks would love nothing else than to put a 1 in that loss column, and extend their Western Conference Final series lead to 3-0.
“It's a lot different playing away from the United Center,” Patrick Sharp said on Monday. “I feel like we've been solid on the road the last couple years in the playoffs. The team gets home for that first game, the crowd's into it, it kind of gives that extra push. We expect L.A. to be good at home. Obviously their record speaks for itself.”
Yes, but the Kings would be playing like a desperate group regardless of that record right now. They’re down 0-2 for the second time in these playoffs. And they’re coming off a game where they were without Mike Richards (upper body), saw goaltender Jonathan Quick pulled and had nothing to show for a strong start. So crank up the desperation that much more.
The Blackhawks, however, keep preaching their mantra: it’s not about them; it’s about us.
“We had a lot of things we wanted to get accomplished in Chicago. It's no different here,” Brent Seabrook said. “We know about their record at home, but we’ve got to come out and play our game and continue to do the things that have made us successful.”
The Blackhawks’ road record isn’t overwhelming. They’ve won two just games there, but that includes a huge Game 6 victory at Detroit that was part of their turnaround from their early series woes. The Blackhawks are playing much better now than they were in their first-round series against the Minnesota Wild, and even through the first half of their second-round series vs. the Red Wings. That group lacked confidence at that time; now, not so much.
But the Kings will not be going quietly, especially now that they’re back home.
“We expect a hard game. Physically they come after you. We want to make sure we're smart in that area and be proactive, as well,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “They played well here all season long. I think the starts are going to be important to the games, so let's be sure we take care of what we have to take care of.”
The Blackhawks have a chance to take a dominating lead in this series, but it won’t be easy. The Kings are back in their element, where life and game outcomes have been very, very good to them. Sharp said after Game 2 that this series is just beginning. Considering the Kings’ record at Staples Center, that could be true.
“It's going to be a tough game for us to go in and battle them, battle the elements,” Sharp said. “But it's something we're looking forward to.”