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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, May 21st (All times Eastern)
Los Angeles Kings (0-1) at Chicago Blackhawks (1-0), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Blackhawks will take aim at a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals Wednesday when they host the Los Angeles Kings in Game 2 from United Center.
The defending Stanley Cup champions drew first blood in the opener of this best-of-seven set, downing the visiting Kings by a 3-1 score on Sunday.
Los Angeles hopes for a better result on Wednesday, as it aims to avoid its second straight series loss to the Blackhawks in the conference finals. The Kings fell behind 2-0 on the road in last spring's encounter, and only won Game 3 on home ice before falling to Chicago in five games. Sunday's opener marked the first time two teams met in the Western finals in back-to-back years since the Stars/Avalanche in 1999-2000.
Picking up wins in Chicago has not been easy for the Kings or anybody else. The Blackhawks have claimed six straight home games against L.A. in the regular season and playoffs combined and are 7-0 as the host in this postseason.
Chicago is 18-2 in its past 20 home playoff games, and according to Elias Sports Bureau, the Blackhawks are the first NHL team to win 18 of 20 home postseason games since Edmonton did the same from April 7, 1988-May 2, 1990.
Of course, the Kings are no stranger to coming from behind in a playoff series this spring. L.A. became the fourth team in league history to rally from a 3-0 deficit when it won the final four games against San Jose in Round 1 and came back from down 3-2 to beat the Anaheim Ducks in the conference semifinals.
Duncan Keith registered the winner late in the second period Sunday and Corey Crawford stopped 25 pucks to help Chicago earn the 1-0 series lead. Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews added tallies for the Blackhawks, while Marian Hossa contributed a pair of assists.
"I thought we had a good first five minutes, but it was even the rest of the way. Every shift is going to be important," said Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville.
Tyler Toffoli provided the sole offense and Jonathan Quick made just 17 saves for the Kings, who were playing Sunday just two days after posting a Game 7 road win in Anaheim.
"We had a chance," Kings forward Mike Richards said. "We shot ourselves in the foot a bit on their goals. Give them credit, they're an opportunistic team. We made a couple mistakes and they ended up in our net."
Los Angeles, which has played 15 postseason games thus far, had an extra day to regroup for this evening's Game 2.
"Only time I really noticed it quite honest was early in the game," Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said when asked if fatigue was a factor in Game 1. "They were going to come out with some energy, they did two or three times in the first where we got caught at the end of shifts. That's where it showed up. Other than that, I don't think it really hurt us that much."
The clubs will get two more days of rest after tonight's battle, as Game 3 is scheduled for Saturday in Los Angeles.
Kings forward Anze Kopitar was held without a point for only the second time in these playoffs on Sunday. He is leading all players in the postseason with 19 points on five goals and 14 assists.
"They're a good team obviously," Kopitar said after Game 1, "I think right down the lineup they're pretty solid, obviously. We're going to have to do a better job of checking, of not giving up timely goals and score a few more ourselves."
The Kings welcomed back defenseman Willie Mitchell, who had been sidelined since Game 6 of the first round with a lower-body injury suspected to be a leg issue. L.A. is still without defenseman Robyn Regehr, who has been out since suffering a lower-body injury in Game 1 of the conference semis against Anaheim. Regehr has not resumed skating and there is no timetable for his return to game action.
05/21 10:38:11 ET
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