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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, May 24th (All times Eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (1-1) at Los Angeles Kings (1-1), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Kings used a furious comeback to run away with Game 2 and tie the Western Conference finals at one game apiece. Now the Kings hope to grab their first lead of the series when they host the Chicago Blackhawks in Saturday's clash at Staples Center.
Down 1-0 in the series and 2-0 on the scoreboard late in the second period of Wednesday's Game 2, the Kings answered with six goals, including three from Jeff Carter, to stun the defending Stanley Cup champions at United Center. In a flash, L.A. altered the course of the series now heads to the City of Angels tied at 1-1 rather than facing a 2-0 deficit. The Kings fell behind 2-0 on the road in last spring's conference finals encounter with the Blackhawks, and only won Game 3 on home ice before falling to Chicago in five games.
The Game 2 scoring barrage began harmlessly enough, with Los Angeles receiving a bit of luck when a centering pass from Kings forward Mike Richards deflected off the skate of teammate Justin Williams and past Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford. Up to that point of the game, L.A. seemed a step behind Chicago, but the fluky goal was enough to change the momentum and spur the Kings to their five-goal third period and a 6-2 rout.
"To be honest with you, I thought we were a little flat heading up to that goal," Carter said of the Williams tally. "We got a bounce. The guys worked hard to get to the net. It gave us a little bit of life. Gave us a little bit of extra energy going into the third."
Carter notched a hat trick for L.A. in the final stanza, posting the second three-goal game of his playoff career. He also added an assist to tie an NHL postseason record for the most points in a third period with four and also joined Tommy Williams as the only Kings players to score three goals in a period in the postseason. Williams accomplished the feat against the Blackhawks on April 14, 1974
Tyler Toffoli and Jake Muzzin scored the other goals to help fuel the comeback. Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, who had been spectacular in keeping the game close while his teammates struggled in the first and second periods, only needed to make six saves over the final 20 minutes as Chicago failed to produce an answer to L.A.'s rally.
Quick stopped 23 shots in all to help L.A. deal Chicago its first home loss of the 2014 postseason. The Blackhawks were 7-0 in the Windy City before the Game 2 setback and are now 18-3 over their past 21 home playoff games.
It also marked L.A.'s first road playoff win over the Blackhawks. The Kings had an 0-7 mark in postseason games at Chicago.
Chicago, which has won its only two playoff series against the Kings, is 2-2 all-time in road playoff games against L.A. The Blackhawks are 2-4 as the guest in the 2014 playoffs, while the Kings are 3-3 at Staples Center this spring.
Nick Leddy gave Chicago a 1-0 lead with 5:44 left in the first period when his nifty backhand completed a power-play breakaway. The Blackhawks went ahead 2-0 on Ben Smith's goal at 1:40 of the second period before L.A. mounted its comeback.
Crawford stopped 18-of-19 Los Angeles shots through 40 minutes before surrendering four goals on 11 shots in the third.
The five goals on 30 shots tied Crawford's personal worst for goals allowed in a playoff contest. He also yielded five scores on 33 shots in Game 4 of last spring's Stanley Cup finals against Boston, but the Blackhawks won that tilt 6-5 in overtime.
"I really liked how we played for 38 minutes. We did everything we were looking to do," said Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville. "They got a little momentum at the end of the period scoring a big goal for them on an innocent play, gave them some life."
Game 4 of this series is scheduled for Monday in Los Angeles, with the fifth battle set for Wednesday in Chicago.
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.
05/24 10:34:56 ET