The Los Angeles Kings aren’t in unfamiliar territory. The defending Stanley Cup champs were in a 2-0 hole in the first round of the 2013 NHL Playoffs, but managed to win the next four and advance passed the St. Louis Blues. In the Western Conference Finals, though, they face an even tougher challenge.
On Tuesday night, the Kings look to win their first contest of the series against the Chicago Blackhawks, who led the NHL with 77 points. L.A. will look to hold serve at home in Game Three. The puck is set to drop at 9 p.m. ET on The NBC Sports Network. Viewers can watch a free live stream online with NBC Sports Live Extra.
In Games One and Two, the Blackhawks showed why they’ve been the best team all year. They scored four goals against Jonathan Quick, something that hasn’t been done against the Conn Smythe Trophy winner in 34 playoff games. Kings coach Darryl Sutter was forced to pull Quick in favor of goalie Jonathan Bernier.
The biggest problem, however, has been on the offensive end for the Kings. They’re scoring fewer than two goals per game in the playoffs.
Despite losing two in a row, Los Angeles is still confident they can win four of the next five games. Not only did L.A. make a big comeback in the first round, but the Blackhawks lost three straight games in the second round to the Detroit Red Wings.
"We've been here, what, three weeks ago?" forward Justin Williams asked. "Obviously it's not do-or-die but it is."
L.A. isn’t panicking with good reason. They’ve been unstoppable at home, losing just four times in front of their fans during the regular season and playoffs. The Blackhawks, though, haven’t been affected by playing on the road, losing just one more regulation game away from home, as compared to in Chicago.
The betting odds at most Las Vegas casinos favor the Kings, thought the contest is, almost, a coin flip. The Kings are a -120 favorite in Game Three. The Blackhawks come in at even odds.
Prediction: Chicago 3, Los Angeles 2