Chicago Blackhawks: 2014 playoffs vs. Kings

Experienced Hawks excited for big Game 7

June, 1, 2014
Jun 1
1:48
PM CT
Greenberg By Jon Greenberg
ESPNChicago.com
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Jonathan ToewsRichard Mackson/USA TODAY SportsThe Blackhawks will draw on their big-game experience in Sunday's Game 7.


CHICAGO -- Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad said he managed to get some sleep Saturday night, on the eve of the team's biggest game of the season, but he’s not sure that trend will continue Sunday.

“It’ll be tough to nap this afternoon,” he said after the morning skate at the United Center. “But I’ll try to relax and take it like any other game.”

Sure. Any other elimination game for the right to appear in the Stanley Cup final.

The Blackhawks take on the Los Angeles Kings in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals at 7 p.m. at the United Center. There is no Game 8, so it's a pretty big deal.

It’s the third Game 7 for the Kings in this postseason and it’s the third elimination game for the Blackhawks in this series. The Kings have experience coming back from the precipice, but Chicago is confident in its home building. The Blackhawks haven't lost a Game 5, 6 or 7 in the last two postseasons.

“Being down 3-1 and the comeback that we’ve had to bring it back home for a Game 7, definitely exciting,” forward Bryan Bickell said. “One win away from being in the finals and we’re going to leave everything out there.”

(Read full post)

W2W4: Blackhawks vs. Kings (Game 7)

June, 1, 2014
Jun 1
11:43
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings face off Sunday in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals at the United Center, with the series tied 3-3. Here's what to watch for:

  • The Kings held a 3-1 series advantage, but the Blackhawks won Game 5 in double overtime in Chicago and won Game 6 in Los Angeles. The Blackhawks overcame third-period deficits in both games and became the fourth team in Stanley Cup playoffs history to win consecutive elimination games when trailing in the third period, according to Elias Sports.

  • Only one other team has overcome a 3-1 deficit in the conference finals. The New Jersey Devils did it against the Philadelphia Flyers in 2000. The Blackhawks could also become the first team to overcome a 3-1 series deficit in consecutive seasons. The Blackhawks did so against the Detroit Red Wings in the conference semifinals last season.

  • Both teams enter Game 7 with history on their side. The Blackhawks are 13-0 in Games 5-7 the last two seasons. The Kings are 6-0 in elimination games this season and advanced in the previous two rounds by winning Game 7 on the road.

  • The Kings are the third team in NHL history to play all 21 possible games through three rounds since all rounds went to best-of-seven in 1987.

  • Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane was held in check for the first four games, but he’s come alive in the last two. He had four assists in Game 5 and two goals, including the game-winner, and an assist in Game 6. He has seven points in the last two games and eight points in the series. He had a hat trick when the Blackhawks clinched the Western Conference finals in Game 5 last season against the Kings.

  • The Blackhawks have been better on the special teams in the past two games. After scoring just one power-play goal and allowing five in Games 2-5, the Blackhawks outscored the Kings 2-1 on special teams in the past two games. The Blackhawks are 7-2 in the playoffs this season and 14-2 in the last two seasons when they score a power-play goal.

  • Kings defenseman Drew Doughty has been impressive throughout the series. He’s had three multi-point games and has seven points in the series. He nearly led the Kings to a victory in Game 6 with a goal and a primary assist in the third period. He has 16 points in the playoffs, which matches his own Kings record for a defenseman.

  • Both goaltenders have been up and down throughout the series. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford has allowed 21 goals and has stopped 160 of 181 shots for a .884 save percentage in the series. Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick has allowed 19 goals and has stopped 147 of 166 shots for a .886 save percentage.
  • Power play now an asset for Blackhawks

    May, 31, 2014
    May 31
    5:36
    PM CT
    Powers By Scott Powers
    ESPNChicago.com
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    CHICAGO -- To call the Chicago Blackhawks a dangerous power-play team may still be a stretch, but they have at least moved into the effective category.

    Unlike last season in the playoffs, the Blackhawks have actually been able to somewhat rely on their power play this season, and that’s been essential because their defense hasn’t been as consistent and their penalty kill hasn’t been as dominant.

    During the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup run last season, they were held without a power-play goal in 16 of 23 games. They scored eight goals on 70 attempts for an 11.4 percentage. They got by without a helpful power play because they killed off 69 of 76 penalties for a 90.8 percentage and held opponents to 2.09 goals a game.

    Those numbers haven’t been as strong this season. The Blackhawks’ penalty kill has allowed 10 goals on 63 chances for an 84.1 percentage, and they’ve allowed an average of 2.78 goals.

    Where the Blackhawks have been able to make up some of the difference has been with their own power play. They have scored a power-play goal in nine of 18 games and have scored 10 goals on 52 chances for a 19.2 percent success rate.

    “Power plays are important,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Saturday. “I think it helps your offense, helps your offensive guys have a little bit more patience in the scoring areas. That added time to make an extra play is the difference sometimes in sustaining puck possession and playing at your own end. You always would like your power play to be good, but sometimes whether it’s goalies or the other team’s checking mechanism can slow it down. That always changes. That’s tough to count on that to get the job done game in, game out.”

    The Blackhawks haven’t reached Game 7 of the Western Conference finals simply because of their power play, but it has helped. They’re 7-2 in the playoffs this season when they have scored a power-play goal and have a 14-2 record over the last two seasons.

    In their current series against the Los Angeles Kings, the Blackhawks are 3-1 when they have scored a power-play goal and 0-2 when they haven’t. The Blackhawks scored a power-play goal in their wins in Game 5 and 6 to even the series at 3-3.

    “To score those big power-play goals to go ahead in a game or tie a game is huge,” Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw said Saturday. “I think the guys have been clicking pretty well the last few games. We just got to keep that simple mentality – getting the puck to the net with traffic.

    “I do [feel it’s better than last year]. Last year, our penalty kill was lights out. We’re going to need both our special teams to do the same going into Game 7.”

    By the numbers: Hawks-Kings (Game 6)

    May, 31, 2014
    May 31
    1:31
    PM CT
    Powers By Scott Powers
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    LOS ANGELES -- Here’s a look by the numbers at the Chicago Blackhawks' 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals:

    • The Blackhawks had three shots on goal in the third period and scored on two of them. The Blackhawks have an 11.5 shooting percentage in the series.

    • Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane had two goals, including the game-winner, and one assist. He has seven points over the last two games and eight points for the series. He has a team-high 18 points for the playoffs. He has four game-winning goals in the playoffs this season and seven career playoff game-winning goals.

    • The Blackhawks won 31 of 60 faceoffs. It was the first time in the series the Blackhawks won more faceoffs than the Kings. Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews won 14 of 28 faceoffs.

    • The Blackhawks improved to 13-0 in Games 5-7 in the playoffs the last two seasons. They are also 11-1 overall and 8-0 on the road in Game 6s since 2009.

    • The Kings had 13 players with a Corsi (shot differential) percentage better than 50 percent, according to extraskater.com. Defenseman Alec Martinez led them at 69.0 percent (the Kings had 20 shots for and nine against with him on the ice in 5-on-5 situations). Forward Trevor Lewis had a team-low 38.5 percentage (five shots for, eight against).

    • The Blackhawks had four players with a Corsi percentage better than 50 percent. Defenseman Brent Seabrook led the team at 60.7 percent (17 shots for and 11 against) and was followed by Patrick Sharp (56.0), Kane (53.8) and Andrew Shaw (52.9). Brandon Bollig had a game-low 10 percentage (one shot for, nine against).

    • Kings defenseman Drew Doughty played a game-high 26:10. Duncan Keith led the Blackhawks with 24:56 of ice time. The Blackhawks’ Sheldon Brookbank played a game-low 5:09.

    • The Blackhawks scored a power-play goal. They are 7-2 in the playoffs this season and 14-2 in the last two seasons when they have scored a power-play goal. The Blackhawks are 4-for-19 on the power play in the series.

    • The Kings scored a power-play goal and were 1-for-2 in the game. They are 6-of-17 for the series.

    • Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick stopped 21 of 25 shots. He has had a .858 save percentage (218-of-254) in the Kings’ nine playoff losses and a .946 save percentage (314-of-332) in their 11 wins.

    • The Kings had a 58.5 Corsi close percentage, which is shot differential with the game tied or within a goal in 5-on-5 situations. It is used to eliminate score effects. The Kings had 48 shots for and 34 against in those situations.

    • Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson had two blocked shots. He leads the league with 52 blocked shots in the playoffs. The Blackhawks had 19 blocked shots in the game.

    • Doughty had a goal and an assist. It was his third multi-point game of the series. He has three goals and four assists in six games against the Blackhawks.

    Hawks battle back again to even series

    May, 31, 2014
    May 31
    1:09
    AM CT
    Powers By Scott Powers
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    LOS ANGELES -- The Chicago Blackhawks just won’t go away.

    The Los Angeles Kings have tried their best in two consecutive games to put an end to the Blackhawks once and for all. Twice the Kings held third-period leads on the Blackhawks, and twice the Blackhawks overcame them and fought back to win. And with that, the Kings’ 3-1 series lead is no more, and the series will be decided back in Chicago.

    Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews took a moment after his team’s 4-3 victory in Game 6 on Friday to admire what the Blackhawks have had to do to get back into the series.

    “I think we know what kind of character we have in this room, what kind of group,” Toews said of the defending Stanley Cup champions. “I think we’re showing it to each other now. It’s pretty amazing to see. We know our job’s not done yet.”

    The Blackhawks have gotten to where they are now by handling a large amount of adversity tossed their way in the past two games.

    In Game 5, it was the Kings rallying from a two-goal deficit to take a 4-3 lead. The Blackhawks were down a goal to begin the third period, and Ben Smith scored within the first two minutes to tie the game. After a chaotic overtime, the Blackhawks pulled out a winner in the second extra period.

    [+] EnlargeBen Smith, Marian Gaborik, Anze Kopitar
    AP Photo/Chris CarlsonBen Smith's second goal in two games gave the Hawks a lead at the second intermission.
    In Game 6, the drama continued. The Kings went up 1-0 in the first period. The Blackhawks responded and took a 2-1 lead after two. The Kings answered by scoring two goals in just over two minutes to go ahead 3-2 less than eight minutes into the third.

    Panic from the Blackhawks’ fan base could be read all over Twitter, but the players themselves resisted that feeling.

    “You've just got to find a way to kind of ride those highs and keep that momentum and when things go against you -- I’ve said this quite a few times -- you forget about those tough moments and just don’t let it affect you too much,” Toews said. “Go out that next shift and keep playing.”

    That they did. Duncan Keith took a pass from Patrick Kane in the deep slot and tied the game 3-3. Kane played the role of hero again by scoring the winner with 3 minutes, 45 seconds remaining. Between and after those goals, Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford and his defense held strong to force Game 7 on Sunday night at the United Center.

    “That’s the way the team has been all year,” Crawford said. “We don’t give up. We can definitely score goals. I don’t think anyone lost confidence or got down after those two goals they scored in the third. If anything, we kept pressing harder.”

    Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville never doubted his team’s resilience, but he was still impressed by it.

    “Three lead changes in the third period, in a big game like that, it's pretty amazing,” Quenneville said. “But our guys, finding a way, it's a compliment to them. Well, top players. I mean, they want to win. They find ways. They challenge one another. You see certain guys competing like that every shift. I mean, you can't help but follow along and make your contribution.”

    Rapid Reaction: Blackhawks 4, Kings 3

    May, 30, 2014
    May 30
    10:47
    PM CT
    Powers By Scott Powers
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    LOS ANGELES -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals at Staples Center on Friday:

    How it happened: Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane broke a 3-3 tie and scored the winning goal at 16 minutes, 15 seconds of the third period. Chicago faced a 3-2 deficit earlier in the period when Kane found Duncan Keith in the slot for a goal 11:34. The Kings had gone ahead by scoring two goals within 2:06 of each other. Drew Doughty tied the game 2-2 with a shot in the deep slot at 5:32, and then set up Alec Martinez for a power-play goal at 7:38. The Blackhawks went to the second intermission up 2-1 on goals by Kane and Ben Smith in the second period. Dwight King scored the game’s first goal at 17:03 of the first period. The Blackhawks were 1-for-2 on the power play, as were the Kings. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford made 26 saves on 29 shots. Kings counterpart Jonathan Quick saved 21 of 25.

    What it means: The Blackhawks evened the series at 3-3 after being down 3-1. Chicago has a chance to become the 25th team to rally from a 3-1 deficit to win a series since the NHL expanded all rounds to best-of-seven series in 1987. The Blackhawks did so last season against the Detroit Red Wings. The Blackhawks improved to 12-0 in Games 5-7 over the past two seasons, including 6-0 in this season. They defeated the Kings at home for the first time in the series. The Kings also hadn’t lost in a Game 6 or 7 this season in the playoffs prior to Friday.

    Player of the game: Kane got himself going in Game 5 and continued it in Game 6. He had two goals and one assist. He has seven points in the past two games.

    Stat of the game: Kane played 27 shifts and 20:40 of ice time.

    What’s next: The series returns to Chicago for Game 7 on Sunday. The Blackhawks are 8-1 at the United Center in the playoffs this season.

    Versteeg out, Brookbank in for Game 6

    May, 30, 2014
    May 30
    8:11
    PM CT
    Powers By Scott Powers
    ESPNChicago.com
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    LOS ANGELES -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg was a healthy scratch and was replaced by Sheldon Brookbank against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals on Friday.

    Versteeg had played in Chicago's previous seven games; he was a healthy scratch in two previous games in these playoffs. He sat the final 50 minutes, 4 seconds of Game 5 after being on the ice for a Kings goal in the second period. He has one goal, two assists and is a minus-5 in 14 playoff games this season.

    Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Thursday he expected more out of Versteeg.

    “It was a tough night, the one shift in particular," Quenneville said. “You just got to battle through it. It's a competitive game, not a lot of time, not a lot of space. You've got to do whatever you can to advance the puck and contribute.”

    Brookbank, whose primary position is defenseman, has two assists and is a plus-4 in six playoff games this season. He last played against the Minnesota Wild on May 13 in the second round.

    W2W4: Blackhawks vs. Kings (Game 6)

    May, 30, 2014
    May 30
    11:43
    AM CT
    Powers By Scott Powers
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    LOS ANGELES -- The Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings face off Friday in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals at Staples Center, with the Kings leading the series 3-2. Here's what to watch for:

    • After pulling out a 5-4 double-overtime win in Game 5, the Blackhawks have to win again to keep their season alive. They haven't won in Los Angeles in the series.

    *• The Kings haven’t lost in a Game 6 or 7 this season. They defeated the San Jose Sharks in Games 6 and 7 in the opening round and defeated the Anaheim Ducks in Games 6 and 7 in the second round.

    • The Blackhawks have been unbeatable in Games 5-7 in playoff series over the last two seasons. They’re 12-0 in those situations, including 5-0 this season.

    • The Blackhawks will be looking for goaltender Corey Crawford to pick up where he left off in Game 5. After allowing four goals on 20 shots, Crawford held the Kings goal-less on their last 24 shots.

    • Special teams has been a factor in every game. The Blackhawks held the advantage in that area in Game 5. They scored a power-play goal and shut out the Kings on three power plays. For the series, the Blackhawks are 3-of-17 on the power play and the Kings are 5-of-15.

    • The Blackhawks’ second line of Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw and Patrick Kane was dominant in Game 5. Saad had one goal and two assists, Shaw had two assists, and Kane has four assists. The Kings’ line of Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson has given the Blackhawks fits throughout the series.

    • Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville wouldn’t reveal any lineup changes, but forward Kris Versteeg could sit out again. Versteeg didn’t play the final 50-plus minutes of Game 5 after being on the ice for a goal in the second period.

    • Kings forward Marian Gaborik has scored in the last two games after being shut out in the first three games. He leads the NHL with 11 playoff goals this postseason. Teammate Anze Kopitar leads the league with 23 playoff points and has four points in this series.

    • Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick's numbers have varied dramatically in wins and losses in the playoffs. He has made 314 saves on 332 shots for a .946 save percentage in 11 playoff wins. He has made 197 saves on 229 shots for .860 save percentage in eight losses.

    W2W4: Blackhawks vs. Kings (Game 5)

    May, 28, 2014
    May 28
    9:50
    AM CT
    Powers By Scott Powers
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    CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings face off Wednesday in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals at United Center, with the Kings leading the series 3-1. Here's what to watch for:

    • The Kings have won the past three games and outscored the Blackhawks 15-7 during that span. Only 24 teams have come back from a 3-1 series deficit since the NHL expanded all rounds to a best-of-seven format in the 1986-87 season. The Kings did it against the San Jose Sharks in the first round this postseason, and the Blackhawks accomplished it against the Detroit Red Wings in the second round last season.

    • The Blackhawks are 7-1 at home this postseason. Their only loss at United Center was to the Kings in Game 2.

    • Special teams have been the difference in the past three games. The Kings scored five power-play goals (plus one where they scored 2 seconds after a Blackhawks' penalty expired) in their three wins. The Blackhawks have scored once on the power play in that same time frame and were 0-for-7 on the power play in the past two games.

    • The Kings are getting contributions throughout the lineup. Forward Jeff Carter has a series-high nine points (four goals, five assists). Anze Kopitar has three points in the series and a league-best 22 points in these playoffs overall. Marian Gaborik scored his first goal of the series in Game 4 and has 10 goals for the playoffs. Tyler Toffoli has three goals in the series. Defenseman Drew Doughty has five points.

    • The Blackhawks are looking for more from everyone other than Jonathan Toews, who has three goals in the series. Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa have combined for one goal against the Kings.

    • Kings forward Jarret Stoll has been a force on faceoffs throughout the series. He has won 56-of-87 faceoffs for a 64.4 winning percentage in the four games.

    • Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick has made 314 saves on 332 shots for a .946 save percentage in 11 playoff wins. He has an .849 save percentage (157-of-185 shots) in seven losses.

    • Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford has an .869 save percentage (185-of-213) in seven playoff losses. He has made 260 saves on 272 shots for a .956 save percentage in their nine wins.

    By the numbers: Hawks-Kings (Game 4)

    May, 27, 2014
    May 27
    9:49
    AM CT
    Powers By Scott Powers
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    LOS ANGELES -- Here's a look by the numbers at the Los Angeles Kings' 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals:

    • Kings forward Jarret Stoll won 16-of-24 faceoffs and 56-of-87 for a 64.4 winning percentage in the series.

    • The Kings scored two power-play goals and have five over the past three games. The Blackhawks had allowed a total of four power-play goals in their previous 13 playoff games this season. The Kings are 16-of-60 for a 26.7 power-play percentage in the playoffs. The Blackhawks dropped to an 84.5 penalty-killing percentage (49-of-58) in the playoffs.

    • The Kings scored three goals on their first six shots. The Kings have scored 14 goals on 84 shots for a 16.7 shooting percentage in the last three games.

    • Kings forward Tanner Pearson was a plus-1. He is a plus-6 for the series and an NHL-best plus-10 for the playoffs.

    • Kings forward Jeff Carter had an assist. He has a series-high nine points on four goals and five assists.

    • The Blackhawks had 24 shots on goal and are averaging 26.2 in the playoffs. They averaged 33.1 shots on goal in the regular season.

    • Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford allowed four goals on 20 shots. He's allowed 13 goals in the past three games. He has an .869 save percentage (185-of-213) in the Blackhawks' seven playoff losses. He's made 260 saves on 272 shots for a .956 save percentage in their nine wins.

    • Kings defenseman Drew Doughty played a game-high 23:55. King forward Kyle Clifford played a team-low 8:39. Duncan Keith led the Blackhawks with 22:20 of ice time. Blackhawks forward Michal Handzus played a game-low 4:28, which included 2:52 of even-strength ice time.

    • Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane recorded his first point in the series with an assist. He had 10 points in the first two series.

    • The Kings are on a three-game winning streak. They have had four winning streaks of four or more games this season. Their last one came during the first round against the San Jose Sharks.

    • Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson blocked five shots and has an NHL-best 49 in the playoffs.

    • The Kings had four players with a Corsi percentage of better than 50 percentage, according to extraskater.com. Matt Greene led the Kings with a 57.9 percentage (the Kings had 11 shots for and eight against with him on the ice in 5-on-5 situations). Trevor Lewis had a team-low 14.3 percentage (two shots for, 12 against).

    • Blackhawks had 17-of-18 players finish with a Corsi percentage of better than 50 percent. Ben Smith had a team-high 75 percentage (15 shots for and five against). Peter Regin had a team-low 45 percentage (nine shots for, 11 against).

    • Kings forward Marian Gaborik scored his 10th goal of the playoffs, tops in the NHL. It's also a new playoff high for him. His previous high was nine playoff goals in 2003.

    • The Kings didn't allow a power-play goal and were leading after two periods. They improved to 8-0 when not allowing a power-play goal and 8-0 when leading after two periods.

    • Kings forward Anze Kopitar had two assists. He leads the NHL with 22 points in the playoffs and has registered points in 15 of 18 playoff games this season.

    • Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick stopped 22-of-24 shots. He has made 314 saves on 332 shots for a .946 save percentage in his team's 11 playoff wins this season. He's had a .849 save percentage (157-of-185 shots) in its seven losses.

    • The Blackhawks are on a three-game losing streak. They had just one losing streak longer than three games during the regular season. They lost four consecutive games in late January.

    Special teams deciding Hawks-Kings series

    May, 27, 2014
    May 27
    12:55
    AM CT
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    LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter was his usual self in the postgame news conference Monday after the Kings defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.

    Sutter didn’t say much or elaborate on most of his answers, but he said all that needed to be said. That was particularly true when he was asked about special teams in the first period. The Kings scored two power-play goals, and the Blackhawks failed to score on two opportunities with the advantage.

    “That’s clearly the difference in the game; first period is clearly special teams,” Sutter said. “I think there are four total, and that’s the difference.”

    Special teams not only decided Game 4, they are also deciding the series. The Kings have won the past three games and taken a 3-1 series lead because of special teams. The Kings have scored five power-play goals on their past 10 power plays over the past three games -- a span during which the Blackhawks are 1-of-11. The Kings also scored a goal two seconds after a Chicago penalty expired in Game 3.

    “How can it not be a [difference?]” Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane said. “The stats, you can just take a lot from looking at the numbers.”

    [+] EnlargeKings
    Richard Mackson/USA TODAY SportsJake Muzzin's power-play goal opened the Game 4 scoring and is one of five such tallies for the Kings in the past three games.
    The Blackhawks’ power-play numbers are nothing out of the ordinary. They have struggled on the power play for much of the past two seasons. They have eight goals on 46 power-play chances in the playoffs this season.

    The Blackhawks were hopeful they could change their success rate in Game 4. Chicago coach Joel Quenneville tinkered with his power-play units beforehand, and it was an area of focus during practice Sunday.

    The Kings gave the Blackhawks two quick power plays to test it out Monday, getting whistled for two penalties within the game’s first seven minutes. The Blackhawks accumulated one shot on net on the first one, and the second one came to an end 40 seconds in when Marian Hossa was whistled for goaltender interference.

    The Kings didn’t waste much time making the Blackhawks pay. With the puck on the wall, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty found Jake Muzzin free in the middle of the ice. Muzzin had plenty of time and space in the far slot, and he drilled the puck past Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford.

    “We’re rolling pretty good,” Muzzin said. “Our penalty kill was really good tonight, and [Jonathan Quick] made some big saves. We were able to gain some momentum off that and carry that into our power play. We jumped on them and got a quick power-play goal, and that got the ball rolling.”

    The Blackhawks were again put on the penalty kill when Patrick Sharp was called for roughing later in the period. Again, the Kings found a way to get the puck into the net. The Kings diced up the Chicago penalty kill with quick passes, and Dustin Brown scored in front of the net.

    “Well, they’re shooting the puck, and a couple of plays there, I thought maybe the first one we could have gone out to that guy coming down the gut, kind of comparable to the last game,” Quenneville explained of his team’s penalty-kill woes. “But they’re shooting and they’re going in. The third goal of the game, their second power play, we’ve got to be better than that.”

    If doesn’t turn around soon, the Blackhawks might be eliminated due to their special teams.

    “Our special teams all year have been a strength of our team,” Quenneville said. “The first two series, penalty killing might have been the reason why we won either series. Right now, they’re going against us, so we have to shore up that area. And our power play, our production’s been off a little bit. I think we’ve got to make sure whether we’re scoring or not, we’ve got to sustain and gather momentum when the power play’s out there.”

    Hawks not eyeing 'big picture' with 3-1 hole

    May, 27, 2014
    May 27
    12:44
    AM CT
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    LOS ANGELES -- Duncan Keith refused to look at the full challenge ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks as they face a 3-1 series deficit to the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference finals.

    Keith said he believes the Blackhawks are going to succeed only if they keep their concentration on what they have to do next.

    “We just got to win one hockey game,” Keith said after the Blackhawks lost 5-2 in Game 4 on Monday. “That’s what our focus will be. We’ll be excited to head back, look at the positives and knowing we’re going to be back in our building. Just win one hockey game. I know that’s easier said than done, but I think we’re going to be excited to play that game back home.”

    Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews had a similar message ahead of Wednesday's Game 5 at the United Center.

    “Just don’t look at the big picture,” Toews said. “If we do, obviously we don’t like what we see. Just got to focus on the next game. We’re still alive in this series. No time to feel sorry for ourselves.

    “Teams have come back from this situation before -- even our team, even this group. So that belief and that confidence has to be there. We’ve just got to go do it. It’s not one guy, it’s not two guys, it’s got to be everybody. We’ll have a great start to Game 5 and get excited and just enjoy the moment, and really, like I said, get that energy and that swagger back.”

    Toews and a majority of his teammates do indeed know what it takes to overcome a 3-1 series deficit. The Blackhawks did just that last season against the Detroit Red Wings. The Blackhawks dropped Games 2, 3 and 4 to the Red Wings in the conference semifinals before winning the final three games to take the series.

    “We were in the same position last year,” Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane said. “You can look back at that and say, ‘We came out and were successful, so why can’t we do it again?’

    “It’s tough with the position we’re in right now, but at the same time we still feel good about our team in here and we all know we’ve done it before. You have to have that confidence of trying to win the next game and see what happens.”

    Rapid Reaction: Kings 5, Blackhawks 2

    May, 26, 2014
    May 26
    10:46
    PM CT
    Powers By Scott Powers
    ESPNChicago.com
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    LOS ANGELES -- Here’s a quick look at the Los Angeles Kings' 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals at Staples Center on Monday:

    How it happened: The Kings jumped on the Blackhawks with three goals in the first period and built a 4-0 lead before Chicago was able to score. Jake Muzzin opened the Kings’ scoring with a power-play goal at the 9-minute mark of the first period. Two minutes, 13 seconds later, Marian Gaborik finished a pass from Anze Kopitar and the Kings went ahead 2-0. Dustin Brown scored another power-play goal for the Kings at 15:56 of the first period. Drew Doughty gave the Kings a 4-0 lead with a second-period goal. Brandon Saad put the Blackhawks on the board at 14:03 of the second. Bryan Bickell pulled the Blackhawks within two goals at 9:27 of the third before Los Angeles scored an empty-net goal with 1:02 to play. The Kings were 2-for-3 on the power play and shut out the Blackhawks on three opportunities of their own. Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick made 22 saves on 24 shots. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford stopped 16 of 20 shots. Kings forward Jarret Stoll won 16 of 24 faceoffs.

    What it means: The Kings won their third consecutive game and took a 3-1 lead in the series. A team has fought back from a 3-1 deficit to win a series 24 times since the NHL expanded all rounds to best-of-seven in 1987. The Blackhawks rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to defeat the Detroit Red Wings in the second round last season. The Kings have scored 14 goals in the past three games. The Kings took advantage of special teams again. Gaborik scored his 10th goal of the playoff and his first against the Blackhawks.

    Player of the game: Doughty had a goal and an assist. He led the Kings in ice time and was one of the reasons why the Blackhawks were held to two goals.

    Stat of the game: The Kings scored on two power plays. They have scored five power-play goals in the past three games. The Blackhawks had allowed four power-play goals in their previous 13 playoff games this season.

    What’s next: The series returns to Chicago for Wednesday night's Game 5. The Blackhawks are 7-1 at home in the playoffs this season; the Kings handed them their lone loss in Game 2.

    Game 4 vital to Kings, Blackhawks

    May, 26, 2014
    May 26
    7:23
    PM CT
    Powers By Scott Powers
    ESPNChicago.com
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    Jonathan ToewsRichard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports"You don't need any inspiration," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "Guys will be ready to play."

    LOS ANGELES -- The thought of losing Game 4 of the Western Conference finals scares both the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings.

    For the Kings, it means allowing the Blackhawks -- the defending Stanley Cup champions -- home-ice advantage again and going back to Chicago with the series tied 2-2. The Blackhawks do have a history of excelling late in a series in recent seasons.

    “It’s a must-win for us,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said prior to Monday night's Game 4. “This game is very important. If we lose this game tonight, it puts them right back in the series and gives them a bit of momentum. If we win we’re going back to Chicago up 3-1, and that’s the place we want to be. Tonight is a must-win. If we want to win this series, I think we have to win this game.”

    Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews also described Game 4 as a must-win, but for different reasons. Teams don’t often come back from 3-1 deficits. It’s happened 24 times since the NHL expanded all rounds to best-of-seven series in 1987. The Blackhawks accomplished that feat last season against the Detroit Red Wings.

    “We go into every game trying to convince ourselves it's a must-win, in this situation especially,” Toews said Monday. “Like I said yesterday, it's pretty obvious we have motivation to win this game. It's right there in front of us. We know it's a must-win. When you play in a game like this, you don't need anything else. You don't need any inspiration. Guys will be ready to play.”

    The Blackhawks are aiming to put together a full game Monday. They held second-period leads in Games 2 and 3 and couldn’t close out the Kings. The Kings outscored the Blackhawks 5-0 in the third period in Game 2 and 2-1 over the final 28 minutes of Game 3.

    “We want to have that complete effort,” Toews said. “Just about sustaining that energy, that speed that we can bring with four lines, making sure we're changing well, that we're not overextending our shifts, that we're not taking unnecessary penalties.

    “Whenever we have that momentum, whether it's from killing a big penalty, having a big power play where we generate a bunch of chances, we have to keep that going. Everyone has to realize when there are five guys out on the ice playing well, they need to follow it up the next shift and keep it going. That's definitely something we'll focus on tonight.”

    The Blackhawks haven’t fared well on the road early in the past 10 series, losing the road opener in each. But they have excelled as the series have gone on. Chicago is 10-4 in Games 4 through 7 on the road during that same span.

    Toews thought there were reasons for that.

    “Maybe kind of understanding our opponent a little bit better,” Toews said. “But us knowing we have to raise our game every single game as we go throughout a series, as the stakes get higher, we're getting to the point now where it's time to do that.

    “There's never a doubt in our minds [we can do that again]. We made it this far. We don't want to stop now. We want to keep working, improving like we've done in the postseason in previous years. There's that potential there. There's that belief there that we're that type of team and we have that ability. We don't want to pass up any opportunities.”

    W2W4: Blackhawks vs. Kings (Game 4)

    May, 26, 2014
    May 26
    2:31
    PM CT
    Powers By Scott Powers
    ESPNChicago.com
    Archive
    LOS ANGELES -- The Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings face off in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals at the Staples Center on Monday. The Kings lead the series 2-1. Here's what to watch for:

  • The Kings hold home-ice advantage over the Blackhawks. The Kings improved to 4-3 at home in the playoffs with a 4-3 win over the Blackhawks in Game 3 on Saturday. The Kings have won the last two games in the series.

  • Special teams was a factor in the Kings’ last two victories. After the Blackhawks had allowed four power-play goals in their first 13 playoff games, the Kings scored two power-play goals in Game 2 and scored another in Game 3. They also scored a goal two seconds after a Blackhawks’ penalty expired in Game 3. The Kings also shut out the Blackhawks on four power plays in Game 3.

  • Kings coach Darryl Sutter wasn’t as concerned in Game 3 as Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was in the first two games about matching up lines. The Kings have utilized their depth for goals throughout the series.

  • The Blackhawks have faced a 2-1 series deficit in four of their last seven series. They came back to win the last three. The Blackhawks have also won at least one road game in their last 12 series.

  • Kings forward Jeff Carter has been on a tear. He has eight points, including four goals, in the three games. He has five goals and five assists in the last five games.

  • The Blackhawks’ top line of Bryan Bickell, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa has been clicking, but the other three lines have been inconsistent. Patrick Kane said between games he was disappointed in his play and would be looking to demand the puck more in Game 4. He scored four goals in Games 3 and 4 against the Kings in the Western Conference finals last season.

  • Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick has stopped 292 of 308 shots for .948 save percentage in his team’s 10 playoff wins this season. He's had a .849 save percentage (157 of 185 shots) in their seven losses.

  • Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford has allowed nine goals in the last two games. He’s given up 24 goals on 193 shots for a .876 save percentage in the Blackhawks’ six playoff losses. He’s made 260 saves on 272 shots for a .956 save percentage in their nine wins.
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