Hawks-Kings Game 3
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LOS ANGELES – It wasn’t a surprise at all, the vigor and push the Los Angeles Kings displayed in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals Tuesday night. What was surprising was the Chicago Blackhawks’ lack of a push back.
Justin Williams and Slava Voynov scored, as the Kings beat the Blackhawks 3-1 at Staples Center. The Kings cut the Blackhawks’ Western Conference Final lead to 2-1 and improved to 8-0 at home this postseason.
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Everyone who watched the first two games of this series knew how the Kings were going to react in Game 3. The defending Stanley Cup champions weren’t going to go quietly, especially on their own ice where they’ve been dominant. And they didn’t disappoint. The Blackhawks, on the other hand, showed no bite until the third period. By then, it was too little, too late.
“I didn’t like our push back,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We were looking for more from the outset. The last 10 minutes was basically how we should’ve started. We got outworked today.”
Indeed, and it started early. The Kings made a few adjustments to their lines in the absence of Mike Richards, who missed his second consecutive game with symptoms from a Game 1 hit by Dave Bolland. Jarret Stoll centered Dustin Brown and Williams, and Anze Kopitar centered Dwight King and Trevor Lewis. The Kings generated early and had the Blackhawks on their heels.
They also got physical with the Blackhawks and the Blackhawks had some frustration moments. Duncan Keith took a high-stick whack at Jeff Carter’s head after Carter slashed Keith, who was trying to pick up a glove, in the hand. Keith got four minutes for that, and said afterward that it was “an accident.” The league is looking at the high stick again, and a hearing has not been ruled out.
Patrick Sharp took a big hit from Brown, leaving in the waning minutes of the second period – he returned in the third and finished. Sharp also had a near fight with Williams in the first, resulting in roughing calls for each.
“He asked me to fight. If he asks me again I’ll fight him any day he wants,” said Sharp, who said the Blackhawks got what they expected from the Kings, but didn’t answer accordingly.
“We have to find a better flow; we took some bad penalties,” Sharp said. “They played harder, they were skating better. We knew they would play well and they did.”
It was a quiet night for a lot of Blackhawks, including Patrick Kane, who hardly had the puck and was barely noticeable. Jonathan Toews, who was also held off the scoresheet, said the Blackhawks lacked the necessary intensity.
“We knew what they were going to play, that they’d have more confidence and energy in their own building. We didn’t bring that same effort and pace,” Toews said. “We know we have to be better in the next one. Considering that, we still had a chance to tie it late.”
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They did, thanks to Bryan Bickell’s wraparound goal with 34 seconds remaining in the second period, a frame that the Blackhawks were shaky, frustrated, outshot (9-3) and outplayed. That goal provided a spark, and the Blackhawks brought it into the third period. But Jonathan Quick, who gave up four goals and was pulled in Game 3, was looking much more Quick-like in Game 4. He came up with several big stops late, including a point-blank one on Bickell.
The Blackhawks got a wakeup call or two in their series against the Detroit Red Wings. This isn’t quite the same, since they’re still up a game and came out stronger in this series. But it’s still a reminder that the Kings aren’t going to go quietly – if at all.
“They just played with more energy. They’re confident in their building and showed that tonight. That goes along with our defensive play, the penalties we took. We just didn’t have the pace and speed to our game we usually have,” Toews said. “We have to improve next time. If we do, we’ll get more offensive chances and do the things we have to do to score.”