NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, June 6th (All times Eastern)
(1) Chicago Blackhawks (2-1) at (5) Los Angeles Kings (1-2), 9 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Kings will try to remain perfect on home ice in the playoffs on Thursday, as they aim to tie the Western Conference finals in Game 4 against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The defending Stanley Cup champion Kings lost the first two games of this best-of-seven series, but after winning Tuesday's Game 3 battle at home they have a chance to even the set at 2-2.
Los Angeles is 8-0 on home ice in this postseason and has won 15 straight at the Staples Center dating back to the regular season.
Chicago, meanwhile, will try to grab a 3-1 edge before the series heads back to the Windy City for Game 5 on Saturday. However, the top-seeded Blackhawks will have to win Game 4 without the services of top defenseman Duncan Keith, who has been suspended one game by the NHL for his actions in the second period of Tuesday's loss.
Keith was given a double-minor for high sticking at the 7:58 mark of the frame in an eventual 3-1 Los Angeles victory, after delivering a one-handed slash to the face of Kings forward Jeff Carter. His actions were in response to Carter appearing to slash downward on the blueliner's loose glove as he attempted to pick it up off the ice.
"It was accidental. I wanted to give him a tap but not where I got him. I felt bad," Keith said.
Accident or not, the loss of Keith is huge for Chicago. The former Norris Trophy winning defenseman is leading the Chicago defense with 10 points (1G, 9A) in the playoffs and is also tops on the team with an average ice time of 24 minutes, 44 seconds per game.
Sheldon Brookbank will make his first appearance of this postseason and take Keith's spot on the roster.
The Kings won Tuesday's game thanks in part to a bounce-back performance from goaltender Jonathan Quick. Last year's Conn Smythe winner rebounded from his worst performance of these playoffs, making 19 saves to help L.A. get on the board in the West finals.
Quick, who was pulled in the second period after surrendering all four scores on just 17 shots in a 4-2 loss during Sunday's Game 2, allowed only a late second-period marker from Bryan Bickell and then made a game-saving stop on the Chicago winger later in the contest to preserve Tuesday's triumph.
Justin Williams, Slava Voynov and Dwight King lit the lamp for the fifth- seeded Kings, who won their ninth consecutive postseason home contest dating back to their Cup-clinching decision against New Jersey nearly one year ago.
"We know the stats of teams that have come back from 3-0 and it's not very good," Williams said. "It was a must win and we responded with a great effort top to bottom. We were just quicker everywhere on the ice. They are a transition team and we just limited their time and space because we were on our toes than our heels."
Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford was the hard-luck loser after stopping 25 pucks for the Blackhawks.
"We knew exactly what kind of game they were going to play and that they were going to have more confidence and energy," said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews.
The Blackhawks fell to 2-4 on the road in the postseason.
L.A. center Mike Richards skated Wednesday for the first time since suffering a head injury in the late stages of Game 1. Richards, who has two goals and eight assists in this postseason, sat out Games 2 and 3 with the issue and his status for Game 4 is uncertain.
Tyler Toffoli has filled in nicely for Richards during his absence, posting a goal and two assists over the last two games.
06/06 10:40:37 ET