NHL Playoff Game Day 34: Blackhawks-Kings


Why Los Angeles Won: After looking like a team that was gassed after two grueling series, the Kings channeled their inner Stanley Cup champion in the friendly confines of the Staples Center, where they are now riding a 15-game winning streak. Playing with far more energy and purpose than they have at any time in this series, the Kings went back to the game plan that has made them so successful. They were physical, opportunistic and hard on the puck. Their best players, starting with goalie Jonathan Quick on out, stepped up and provided the kind of play the Kings will need if they are to claw their way back into this series.

Why Chicago Lost: Because there was no way they were going to sweep the Stanley Cup champions. But then again, you’d think a team with Chicago’s experience and talent would have more of a killer instinct. They had the opportunity to take an absolute stranglehold on this series, but came up with what could best be described as a tepid effort. The Blackhawks accomplished very little in the way of offense in the first two periods and didn’t seem to play with a whole lot of urgency.

Play of the Game: Just over three minutes into the game, Justin Williams took a terrific pass from Slava Voynov and got it off his stick at the speed of light to put the Kings up 1-0. That goal gave the Kings the confidence and the comfort they feel at home and allowed them to dictate the pace of the game. That’s a good reason why the Kings are 22-0 in the regular season and playoffs this season when scoring the first goal at home.

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Three Stars
1. Justin Williams: Not only did he score the vital first goal of the game, he led the Kings in terms of energy and creativity and came up with a gem of a game when his team needed him most.

2. Slava Voynov: The Kings defenseman set up his team’s first goal and scored the second one, snapping his stick on the shot, and giving the Kings all the offense they needed on the evening.

3(a) Bryan Bickell: After not doing much for most of the first two periods, Bickell scored his seventh goal of the playoffs, yeah you read that right, then came ever-so-close to tying the score in the dying minutes of the game.

3(b) Jeff Carter: One of the few Kings who played well in Game 2 was arguably the best Kings player in Game 3. So, so strong on the puck.

What’s next: The Stanley Cup champions are right back in the series and are a Thursday night win away from making things very, very uncomfortable for the Blackhawks. Depending on which way the wind is blowing, Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith may or may not be suspended for Game 4 for his highstick on Carter that left Carter bloodied, but unbowed. With or without Keith, look for the Blackhawks to come out with a much more determined effort in Game 4. But if the Kings play the way they have at home through these playoffs, it may not be enough.