Following a dominating victory in game two tying the series at one apiece, the Los Angeles Kings continued to impress as they skated to a 4-2 win against the Chicago Blackhawks in game three of the Western Conference finals.
Despite Hawks captain Jonathan Toews single-handedly taking control of the contest early on with two goals in a span of 7:53, the Kings once again stifled and frustrated the defending Stanley Cup champions.
A wicked slap shot from the point courtesy of Drew Doughty with 8:03 remaining in the third period proved to be the eventual game-winning goal.
WCF Game 3
At this point in the series, a simple storyline has evolved. Chicago’s top stars are finding it difficult to perform consistently, and the team isn’t receiving secondary scoring to make up for their struggles. Contrastingly, Los Angeles is not experiencing those same problems.
When it comes to the Kings offensively, the team is currently firing on all cylinders. First and foremost, center Jeff Carter has been leading the attack in remarkable fashion. In 17:52 of ice time in game three, Carter tallied two goals and one assist paving the way to victory for his team. He has a combined total of four goals and four assists for eight points and is a plus-five throughout the first three games of the series.
Other standout performers include defenseman Drew Doughty [one goal and one assist in game three, three points in the series], 21-year-old rookie Tanner Pearson [one assist in game three, 4 points in the series], and Scarborough, Ontario, native Tyler Toffoli [one goal in game three, three points in the series].
Keep in mind, this success is all occurring without contributions from the likes of forwards Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik, and Mike Richards. Once those players inevitably get going as the series progresses, Chicago will find themselves in a world of trouble trying to contain the Kings team as a whole.
While Darryl Sutter’s group continues to find consistent production from their depth players to go along with their primary offensive suppliers, the Blackhawks’ find themselves suffering from scoring woes that stem from a very basic fact – their superstars are not performing like superstars.
With the sole exception of Jonathan Toews, the Hawks attacking game is almost nonexistent. Heavily relied upon point producers such as Patrick Sharp [one point in the series], Brent Seabrook [zero points in the series], and Bryan Bickell [zero points in the series] have been completely invisible for their team.
Even puck wizard Patrick Kane who recorded 10 points this postseason prior to game one has remained pointless in the past three games and is a minus-three.
If the Blackhawks realistically hope to get back into the series anytime soon, the aforementioned names will need to show up on the score sheet.
Meanwhile, Chicago’s captain spoke to the media after his team’s game three loss and had this to say regarding their compete level:
“We’re pushing for another level every single game,” said Toews. “It wasn’t good enough [Saturday]. We’ll keep working on finding that next level in game four. We need to be the best we possibly can be…We’ve shown we can do that in the past. The motivation is right there in front of us now. There’s nothing left to think about, just give everything you’ve got…Every game is a must-win…It’s now or never.”
For the Kings, managing to steal game two on the road was a huge momentum boost. Returning to Staples Center all evened up was important but thoroughly outplaying their opponents and taking control of home-ice advantage is an even larger statement.
Going down 3-1 in a playoff series to Los Angeles is not a deficit the Hawks want to face. It would be a hole almost seemingly impossible to climb out of. This Kings team is not the Detroit Red Wings of 2013. If Chicago fails to take game four on Monday night, I wouldn’t be too optimistic if I were a Blackhawks fan.
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