Well, there’s another one in the books, and the Chicago Blackhawks have extended their lead in the Western Conference Finals 3-1, breaking the L.A. Kings home winning streak.
The L.A. Kings had not lost a game at home in 15 games until last night, when Chicago’s Marian Hossa scored the game winner early in the 3rd period. Chicago had won the first two games at their home arena, The United Center, and has now inched closer to the Stanley Cup Finals.
At first, it appeared the Kings were poised to continue winning at home when defenseman Slava Voynov scored off of a wide open laser-shot at Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford with the rest of the players clustered around him. The Kings were playing well as a team in the first period, but they couldn’t stop Blackhawks’ Bryan Bickell from slotting a goal that somehow escaped the normally sure glove of L.A.’s goalie Jonathan Quick.
That’s how the first period ended, the score tied 1-1 with hits, shots on goal, and the number of face-offs won distributed evenly between the two teams.
At the start of the second period, the Kings looked strong again, and a nice move by L.A.’s Jeff Carter allowed him to assist his teammate Dustin Penner to make the score 2-1 in L.A.’s favor. But the lead wouldn’t last the period, and late in the second, Patrick Kane stormed the net, ensuring Bickell’s deflection of their teammate Niklas Hjalmarsson’s shot made it past Quick.
The Kings, who normally finish out games when ahead, especially at home, gave up and the lead and the period ended with the score tied at 2-2.
Unfortunately for the Kings, the surrendering of the lead in the second period did them in. Early into the third period, after killing of a Chicago penalty, a L.A. King’s line change allowed Blackhawks’ Michal Handzus to set up a fast break play with Hossa who took Handzus’ assist and fired a precise shot into the right side of the net that was too fast for Quick to deny.
The Kings only fired two shots against Blackhawks’ Crawford in the third period, and the win did everyrhing except to put the nail in the coffin for the reigning champs, the L.A. King’s.
It is worthy to note that both teams are without some very skilled players; L.A. is without their center Mike Richards, their leading scorer, after suffering a concussion at the hands of Chicago’s Dave Bolland in the series opener. Chicago was without key defenseman Duncan Keith after being suspended earlier in the series.
L.A.’s leading scorer Anze Kopitar has only one goal in 13 games, and the Kings’ captain Dustin Brown has only one goal in the last 9 games. Game 5 will be held Saturday night in Chicago and the Kings will fight for desperately to keep the dream of a repeat alive.
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