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Strong start gives Kings 3-1 series lead
Los Angeles, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - A three-goal burst in the first period has Los Angeles one win away from the Stanley Cup finals, as the Kings took a 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.
Jake Muzzin, Marian Gaborik, and Dustin Brown scored in just under a seven- minute span in the opening frame to give the Kings a 3-1 lead in this best-of- seven series.
Drew Doughty added a goal in the second period, while Jonathan Quick stopped 22 shots for the Kings, who can close out this series on Wednesday in Chicago.
"We are trying to win one game, whether we are up 3-1, down 3-1, 2-2, no matter what the series is, that doesn't change what we are trying to do the next game," said Quick.
Los Angeles is hoping to make it back to the Cup finals for the second time in three years, as the team beat New Jersey in 2012 for its first and only championship.
Chicago, meanwhile, will have to rally if it wants a shot at its second straight trophy. The team defeated Boston in six games last season for its second championship in four seasons.
The Blackhawks, though, did face this situation in last year's run to the Cup, as the team fell behind 3-1 to Detroit in the semifinals, only to win the next three, including the series-clincher in overtime in Game 7.
"It's all about our game and our preparation, there's things we need to do better," said Chicago captain Jonathan Toews. "We make mistakes and things wind up getting compounded quickly. We just need to forget about this and find a way to play like we did in Game 1."
Brandon Saad and Bryan Bickell scored for the Blackhawks, who saw Corey Crawford give up four goals on just 20 shots in the loss.
The Kings scored three times over a 6:56 span in the first to take control of the game.
Skating on the power play, Doughty sent a pass from the left circle to the high slot where Muzzin gathered the puck and snapped it into the right corner with Jeff Carter parked in front of Crawford at the nine-minute mark.
Just over two minutes later, Anze Kopitar stole the puck from Duncan Keith along the right boards and quickly fired a pass to the front where Gaborik tipped it in for his NHL-leading 10th of the playoffs.
Another power-play goal saw the Kings make it a 3-0 game. Muzzin sent the puck from the left point to the inside right circle where Justin Williams one- touched it over to the left side and Brown had an open net for his third of the playoffs at 15:56.
It was a 4-0 game at 12:43 of the second after Kopitar sent a pass from the high slot to the right point and Doughty zipped a wrister that tipped off a defender's stick and floated in for his third of the playoffs.
Chicago got on the board just 1:20 later as the disc came out to the right point where Michal Rozsival chipped a quick pass to the slot and Saad backhanded it into the net.
The Blackhawks made the game interesting at 9:29 of the third as the team jammed the net and after several chances, Bickell backhanded one in for his seventh of the playoff and a 4-2 game.
Chicago pulled Crawford with over three minutes to play, but was unable to cut the deficit and Tanner Pearson sealed the win with an empty-netter.
The Kings were 2-for-3 on the man advantage, while Chicago failed to find the net in three chances ... 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 ... Kopitar had two assists in the game, and leads all postseason skaters with 22 points, including 17 assists.
05/27 00:38:33 ET
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