The Los Angeles Kings bounced back from a Game 2 thumping to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1 last night at the Staples Center. The Kings looked more energetic, aggressive, and desperate as they reminded everyone why they are undefeated at home this post season.
The Chicago Blackhawks were shut down by L.A.’s stingy defense for most of the game. The Kings were much more physical on the forecheck last night compared to the first two games of the series. This was a heated contest for both sides but Chicago struggled to create offense in a slower paced Game 3.
“The pace of the game was played at L.A.’s pace, slow,” ESPN’s Barry Melrose said during his postgame analysis on Sportscenter. “Skills guys like Kane, Toews, Hossa, and Sharp don’t like slow play.”
Los Angeles forced Chicago to play at their pace when winger Justin Williams scored at the 16:39 mark in the first period. The defending champs are virtually unbeatable when they score first at home during the playoffs. Jonathan Quick and his defense have led the Kings to 22 straight home wins when scoring the first goal.
“When they (the Kings) score first they can into that defensive shell,” Melrose said. “They are great at that.”
The Blackhawks weren’t able to create many scoring chances against Los Angeles’ defense. Chicago only had ten shots on goal after the second period. Luckily, winger Bryan Bickell salvaged what otherwise would have been an awful period by scoring with 34 seconds left before intermission. The President’s trophy winners were on the penalty kill for six minutes of that period due to an interference penalty committed by Johnny Oduya and Duncan Keith’s double minor for his high stick on L.A. winger Jeff Carter. In total, Chicago was on the penalty kill for twelve minutes of game action. The Blackhawks were a man down for 20% of Game 3, that’s not a part of head coach Joe Quenneville’s winning formula.
“We took five penalties tonight, probably four too many,” Quenneville said in his postgame press conference. “We got to be smarter in that area. You get the building rocking with them having momentum and having chances around our net. We have to stay out of the box.”
It should be noted that the Blackhawks did successfully kill all five penalties, but they lost a lot of momentum doing so. Their offensive attack was stagnant until they mustered a couple of flurries in the third period but Quick and the Kings defense held up strong.
The Blackhawks still have to feel good about where they stand having a 2-1 series lead. L.A. is 8-0 this postseason at home but Chicago is battle tested by playing in must win games on the road in these playoffs. A couple of things can be improved from Game 3 for Quenneville’s team before Thursday night’s contest.
They have to get off to a quick start because Chicago can’t afford to go down by two goals again when they’re playing the Kings in the Staples Center. Chicago did a great job creating putting pressure on Quick Games 1 and 2 by putting a lot of pucks and on net. They averaged 31 shots on goal in the first two games of the series but only had 20 last night; that’s not enough to beat Quick and his men on their home ice. The Blackhawks need to have a faster paced physical style of play in Game 4 if they want to take a commanding 3-1 lead back to the Mad House.
“They played a good game and we didn’t have enough to get the result we wanted to,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said in his postgame interview. “We still like where we’re at in the series but we know we definitely have to bounce back and have a much better effort in Game 4.”
Quenneville and Toews Interview
Melrose Quotes are via Sportscenter.