WARR’s hockey writer Sidney Brown offers his takes on the Blackhawks throughout their postseason run as well as predictions on the rest of the NHL
After Game 2 of this Western Conference Finals, L.A. Kings coach Daryl Sutter said that he doesn’t believe that gained momentum comes automatically after a win. After his team’s performance in Game 3 against the Chicago Blackhawks, he has to be a little less sure of his opinion.
Taking control in this important game’s second period and continuing that all-important “momentum” throughout the rest of regulation, the Kings took down the Hawks 4-3 Saturday night in L.A. and gained a 2-1 series lead.
This game’s first period was carried by the Hawks, who came out focused and with more at their disposal given the return of Andrew Shaw, who was playing his first game since Game 1 of the Minnesota Wild series.
Just as Game 2 saw the Hawks gain an early advantage, Game 3 saw Jonathan Toews lead the charge forward for the team that calls him Captain.
Toews found the net on a short-handed possession — the first time the Hawks have scored this postseason with a man disadvantage — at the 5 minute, 26 second mark of the first, giving the road team an early 1-0 lead, but within that same penalty, the Kings responded with a power play goal from Slava Voynov off a slap shot (6:16), tying the score at 1-1.
Chicago countered again with Cap as Toews delivered his second goal of the game and eighth of the playoffs to put the Hawks back up 2-1, a lead they kept after one period.
Unfortunately, also like in Game 2,the wheels came off for the Hawks by the wheels came off by the end of the second period and the Kings took advantage. Game 2 hero Jeff Carter got it going at 8:08 with his eighth goal of the playoffs and his fourth goal since the beginning of the third period in Game 2.
With the game tied at 2-2, L.A.’s Tyler Toffoli pushed the Kings ahead off a wrist shot at 14:19 of the second. Although the Hawks had the advantage in shots on goal for the period (10-4), things went from bad to worse as the game progressed into the third. Kings defenseman Drew Doughty scored on a slapper at 11:57, extending the lead 4-2. Hawks sniper Patrick Sharp netted home his third goal of the playoffs in the waning moments (19:55) to close the gap, but it was too little, too late. Once again, dumb penalties costs the Hawks a game and this problem must stop or this series will be over in a hurry.
Michal Rozsival’s high sticking penalty in the third period (9:55) on Kyle Clifford is a perfect example of being undisciplined and making a mistake at a crucial time in game trailing by one goal in a playoff game. The Hawks’ power play was shut out (0-4) but I thought that they were productive on their last two opportunities, creating scoring chances but nothing to show for it. Give credit to the Kings once again for taking advantage of Hawks mistakes and forcing their tempo.
By doing those things, the Kings dominated the third period and built an 18-7 shots on goal advantage. The Kings’ mostproductive line in this series carried the day: call it “That 70’s Line”, including Jeff Carter (No. 77), Tyler Toffoli (No. 73) and Tanner Pearson (No.70), which combined for two goals and three assists in Game 3, making the Hawks defend on their heels. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick held his own in net after being tested the first two periods, collecting 24 saves and posting an .889 save percentage.
On the other side, Corey Crawford tried his best but this loss doesn’t belong to him as much as maybe Game 2 did. Crawford stopped 28 of 32 shots while posting a save percentage of .875. The Hawks came to Los Angeles to win one game, the pressure is on now as their most immediate chance has passed them up.
If the Hawks don’t win Game 4 on Monday, staring down a potential 3-1 hole could be dangerous and the LA Kings are proving game after game that they are superior to the Detroit Red Wings from a season ago (the last team to put the Hawks in a 3-1 deficit) and their group has been battled tested and succeeded in battle.
No team has ever played in consecutive seven-game series to start a playoffs and ended that playoffs in the Stanley Cup Finals, the L.A. Kings look like they want to be the first.
LA — Went 1-3 on the power play.
LA — Jeff Carter followed up his Game 2 hat trick with another three points (1 goal, 2 assists).
LA — Held a 16-10 advantage in blocked shots.
LA — Held a 30-27 advantage in faceoff wins.
LA — Held a 32-27 advantage in shots on goal.
LA — Penalty kill unit went 4-4 shutting down the Hawks.
CHI — Marian Hossa and Nick Leddy each scored one assist.
CHI — Bryan Bickell lead the team in hits (6).
LA — Stars Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Marian Gaborik combined for 0 points
CHI — Went 0-4 on the power play.
CHI — Patrick Kane scored 0 points for the third straight game.
CHI — Jonathan Toews won only 46% of his faceoffs.
Hawks Playoff Splits (Home/Away)
Record: Home (7-1), Away (2-5).
Goals per game: Home (3.4), Away (2.3).
Goals allowed: Home (1.9), Away (3.3).
Power play: Home (31.8%), Away (4.8%).
Penalty kills: Home (88%), Away (86.7%)
If these statistics aren’t alarming to Hawks fans, then you haven’t been paying attention to the games. Looking at this is an example of why it is hard to repeat as champions, but the Hawks have the talent to turn it around, they just need to get it going as soon as possible.
Looking At Game 4
The Kings clearly have the momentum in this series and their style of play has rattled the Hawks to the point of self destruction in critical moments in games.
Like the Hawks, the Kings have championship experience and now they have a chance to grab a 3-1 series lead and push the defending Cup champions to the brink of elimination while also winning their second Western Conference Championship in three years.
The Hawks need to treat Game 4 like a Game 7 and play with a sense of desperation and, more importantly, stay disciplined for the entire 60 minutes.
With such a crucial game on Monday, here are the main questions at hand — Will Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell finally score goals? Will the Hawks stop taking dumb penalties? Will Jonathan Quick maintain an in-net advantage over Corey Crawford Will That 70’s Line carry the day for the Kings again? We’ll all find out the answers Monday night.
The Road Ahead (Series Schedule)
Game 4: Monday, at Los Angeles, 8 PM CT (NBCSN)
Game 5: Wednesday, 7 PM CT (NBCSN)
Game 6: May 30th, at Los Angeles, 8 PM CT (NBCSN)*
Game 7: June 1, 7 PM CT (NBCSN)*
*= If Necessary
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