Kings Pushed to the Brink in Game 4
A hush fell on STAPLES Center early in the third period save for the Blackhawks fans who dah-dah-dah-ed to "Chelsea Dagger". Marian Hossa's laser shot got past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick 70 seconds in the period, and the images of the season started flashing through the eyes of the 18,621 who were fans.
The Blackhawks had their first lead of the game at 3-2, and the Kings were facing a 3-1 series deficit in the mouth.
"Chicago gets an goal early in the third and late in the second, that usually tells the tale of the tape," Dustin Penner said.
To that point it was a fairly even game. Both teams had two goals on 19 shots, the Kings had the slight 17-15 faceoff edge.
The fourth line of Kyle Clifford, Colin Fraser and Brad Richardson had a great first shift of the game trying to negate the several good scoring chances that Chicago just had. So of course with all of their work, the puck would find its way to Slava Voynov's stick. Yet again he was backing up the play, the puck got to his stick and the Kings took the 1-0 lead.
Unfortunately a knuckler by Brian Bickell ate Quick up and tied the game midway through the first.
But then after some tinkering with the lines in the second period, the Blackhawks team that the Kings encountered in the United Center showed up.
The Kings were held to two shots on goal during the final 20 minutes separated by 14 minutes thanks in part to Chicago blocking seven shots.
"Pretty tough team to shut down in the third," Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville commented.
"We just chipped the puck down and the puck wen tto their end pretty quick so we didn't have to play taht much in our own end," Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "We had a lot of confidence there at the end."
As the initial shock of the deficit wore off, the fans tried the chants of "Go Kings Go". But even with defenseman Duncan Keith suspended for Game 4, Chicago was the brick wall in that final period.
"I think they did a good job of plugging it off, defending the lead," Darryl Sutter said.
So now the Kings have to go into Chicago on Saturday and try and steal a game. It would probably be a really good time for the leaders to finally show up on the scoring sheet. Both Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty have not had a point in this series.
"We need our top guys to lead the way," Doughty said. "The rest of the team follows."
The team insists that they don't have to change the way they play on the road. "We just have to score more than they do," Penner quipped.
For a team that averages only two goals per game this playoffs, that's easier said than done.
The team has now lost for the first time at home, and fell to 23-2 over the last two seasons in the playoffs when they scored two goals. If there is a Game 6, it will be here on Monday.