Seeking only their second series lead in these playoffs, the Los Angeles Kings hope to carry their incredible scoring touch into Saturday’s Game Three of the Western Conference Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks at Staples Center
The Kings scored six straight goals in Game Two to even the series 1-1, with center Jeff Carter’s third-period hat trick powering a five-goal final stanza for a 6-2 victory while handing Chicago its first home loss of the postseason.
Carter became the 12 th player in NHL history to record a hat trick in the third period of a playoff game, and the first since 2002 as the Kings can take their first series lead since they built a 2-0 advantage over Anaheim in the second round.
Chicago and goalkeeper Corey Crawford fell in arguably their most lopsided loss of the postseason. It was the second game the Blackhawks lost by a four-goal margin, and Crawford’s five goals allowed were a playoff-high after surrendering three combined goals in his three previous starts.
L.A.’s Jonathan Quick started slow by goals to defenseman Nick Leddy and right wing Ben Smith for a 2-0 lead early in the second period. But from then on Quick shutdown Chicago with 23 saves off 25 attempts, and the Kings defense only gave up six shots in the third period.
It was an especially glorious performance from Quick, who’s posted a 2-5 overall record against Chicago in the post season allowing a 2.71 goals-against average and a .895 save percentage.
The Blackhawks defense continued to silence L.A.’s top offensive players in Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaboriki, but Justin Williams did break through with his sixth goal of the playoffs. Carter and center Tyler Toffoli helped L.A. convert two of its four power plays, and their now tops among teams remaining in the post season with a 24.1 percent power play success rate.
Chicago’s offensive woes may not last much longer, with center Andrew Shaw expected to make his return from a right leg injury he suffered in Game One of the second round series against Minnesota. Shaw totaled 20 goals and 19 assists in the regular season, and can certainly draw attention away from top playmakers Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa.
Still, the Blackhawks will need far more production from center Patrick Sharp, who netted a team-best 78 points in the regular season but has six points in 14 postseason games and hasn’t scored a goal since Game Four against the Wild.
Start Time: Saturday, 8 p.m. EST
TV Channel: NBC
Live Online Stream Info: A live online stream is available at NBC Live Extra here
Betting Odds: LA -1.5
Over/Under: 5 goals
Prediction: LA over Chicago 3-2