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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, May 26th (All times Eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (1-2) at Los Angeles Kings (2-1), 9 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Blackhawks will try to avoid a third straight loss in the Western Conference finals when they visit the Los Angles Kings for Monday's Game 4 battle at Staples Center.
The Blackhawks won the opener of this set 3-1 and then held a 2-0 lead late in the second period of Game 2 before Los Angeles came alive. The Kings used a furious comeback to take the second meeting in Chicago by a 6-2 score and then posted a 4-3 decision in Saturday's Game 3 in L.A. to grab a 2-1 edge in this best-of-seven series.
The defending Stanley Cup champions hope to turn things around on Monday and even this set at two games apiece before it heads back to Chicago for Wednesday's Game 5. The Blackhawks beat the Kings in five games during the West finals a year ago before downing Boston to win the Cup for the second time in four seasons.
Chicago is 2-5 on the road in the 2014 playoffs after Saturday's loss. The Kings are 4-3 on home ice this postseason.
Jeff Carter has fueled the Kings' offense over the last two games, recording four goals and three assists over Games 2 and 3. Carter recorded a hat trick and an assist in Game 2 and added a goal and two assists to help L.A. win Saturday on home ice. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Carter is the first Kings player to register three or more points in consecutive playoff games since Wayne Gretzky did it in 1993.
After scoring six straight to win Game 2 in a rout, the Kings lit the lamp three straight times after falling behind, 2-1, on Saturday. Carter scored the tying goal at 8:08 of the second period in Game 3 and set up the go-ahead goal by Tyler Toffoli six minutes later.
Carter has 19 points (8G, 11A) this postseason, one point behind teammate Anze Kopitar for the NHL lead.
Drew Doughty had a goal and an assist, while Slava Voynov notched a power-play marker for the Kings, who can take a stranglehold in this series tonight.
"Two-to-one series against the defending Stanley Cup Champs, I don't think there's taking control of a series," said Los Angeles forward Dustin Brown. "I think that both teams have shown that they are able to battle adversity. This is a team that was down last year and found a way to come back, so we did what we wanted tonight and got the lead in the series. Now it's about resetting and reloading. We're up in the series, we have to keep going up."
Jonathan Quick stopped 24 shots in Saturday's win, while Corey Crawford allowed all four goals on 32 shots for the Blackhawks, who went 0-for-4 on the power play.
Chicago captain Jonathan Toews scored two goals in a losing effort. After his club's second straight loss, Toews said now is not the time for frustration to set in.
"We played well but we didn't get the result we wanted tonight," said Toews. "We'll keep improving and move on to the next one. There is no time for getting discouraged and frustrated. We know we can keep pushing it to that next level and that is what it's going to take against these guys. Clearly they want it badly and are playing really hard. For us I think it's just a matter of continuing that effort that we started with in the first period."
Toews scored short-handed 5:26 into Saturday's game, but Voynov tallied just 50 seconds later off a feed from Carter to even the score. Toews added his second goal of the game with 6:41 remaining in the first, but that would be Chicago's last goal until Patrick Sharp tallied in the closing seconds of regulation.
Los Angeles tied the game at 8:08 of the second period on Carter's eighth of the playoffs. Tanner Pearson fought for the puck behind the net and sent a pass to the front where Carter one-timed it in. The Kings took their first lead of the game six minutes later after a neutral zone turnover saw Carter chip the puck through the middle and behind the defense. Toffoli caught up to the puck and went backhand to forehand before sliding it in for his sixth of the playoffs and a 3-2 lead.
"Getting pucks deep and getting lots of pucks to the net and creating traffic, you can't score goals unless you get the puck on net and drive to the net," said Toffoli. "If you look at our goals tonight, it's cut into our system and we're executing well right now."
Quick stopped 10 shots in the second frame and helped Los Angeles kill off two penalties to keep the lead. The score stayed at 3-2 until Doughty tallied on a blast from the top of the right circle with 8:03 left in the third. Sharp scored with just 4.2 seconds remaining, but Chicago was unable to get another shot on net before time expired.
Patrick Kane, last season's Conn Smythe winner for the Blackhawks, has yet to register a point in the first three games of the series, but he hopes to break out in Game 4.
"Just demand (the puck)," Kane said about how he can get on track. "That's the biggest thing. Demand the puck and when I do get it be confident with it. Those two things will generally lead to better games from myself."
This series marks the first time two teams are meeting in the Western finals in back-to-back years since the Stars/Avalanche in 1999-2000.
05/26 10:42:38 ET
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