Kings Rebound at Home, Take Game 3
Where the hell was this Kings team in Chicago? Looking like a completely different team to the one that showed up in Chicago, the Kings kept alive hopes of a repeat with a 3-1 win in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final.
The way the Kings had lost the two games in Chicago succumbing to their speed, the next two games seemed like a mere formality. Instead the Kings returned home to dictate how they were going to play. They held the Blackhawks to a playoff low 20 shots while winning 59 percent of the faceoffs.
"I think it's tough to be quicker than the Blackhawks," Justin Williams said. "But I thought we established what we wanted to do early, and we continued to do that during the whole game."
It helped that Williams came out on fire in the first 10 minutes of the game: two shots on goal, one hit, one takeaway and one block, and perhaps most importantly the first goal of the game thanks to that lone takeaway. It didn't matter that a hook by Brandon Saad went uncalled. Williams fought through as the Kings kept up the cycle.
It was not a product of just squeaking one by Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford as they did in Game 1. As Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick summarized, "I think we played our game."
Perhaps the most remarkable stat from this game was the Kings limiting the Blackhawks to only three shots on goal in the second period. "The biggest thing was our forwards being able to play in the offensive zone," defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "It was a big factor in keeping them off of the scoreboard."
Also notable in that second period was Slava Voynov scoring his fifth playoff goal. Yet again it was him backing up the play as the Kings got multiple chances in the cycle. The puck managed to find Voynov's stick, however despite his twig snapping he managed to light the lamp.
"He seems to find some holes," Williams said. The with the friendly jab. "Even though he doesn't speak too much English, he talks a lot on the ice. You always know when he's open."
Disappointing to Quick was the one goal he let through by Brian Bickell in the final seconds of the second period that quieted the crowd. "There's some things I'd like to clean up for the next game," Quick said despite the 19 other saves he made.
When Quick makes saves like he did on another Bickell shot late in the third period, it's hard to find room for improvement.
It really is baffling to wonder why this team cannot perform like this on the road where they are 1-7 this postseason. If this team had shown up at the Madhouse on Madison, this series would have been tied coming back to the STAPLES Center.
"You don't get the matchups that you sometimes want," defenseman Robyn Regehr said. "That's probably the big thing: the home team gets the last change. They get the matchups, and you're in a hostile environment."
That didn't seem to faze the Kings last season, so how do you duplicate it?
"I wish I knew that," defenseman Robyn Regehr said. "I think it's a matter of everything in our game is being much better executed here at home. We come up with a little more energy. I think we're more aggressive. Whether that's to do with the home crowd. I'm not sure. Maybe we can ask them to follow us on the road."
The big controversy of the game came in the second period when Duncan Keith batted his stick against Jeff Carter's face. Although Carter did get a hard slash on Keith prior to that, it was clear it was retaliatory.
"Obviously I wanted to give him a tap but not where I got him," Keith said. "I felt bad."
Carter left the game to get stitched up and returned to the ice a few minutes later. "I'm glad to see that he came back," Keith continued.
Kings head coach Darryl Sutter did not think that was a four-minute double-minor penalty.
"It's retaliation with a stick," Sutter said. "It's not a high stick. Whatever they want to call it, they'll call it."
When asked if he expected any supplemental discipline from this, Sutter replied, "I don't expect nothing."
The Kings are now 8-0 at home approaching a playoff record for consecutive home wins held by Edmonton in 1988. Game 4 will return to STAPLES Center on Thursday at 6:00 p.m.