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Kings Unleash Royal Fury, Tie Series With Blackhawks

By Chuck Sudo in News on May 22, 2014 1:30PM

What did we say in our Western Conference Finals preview? These are not last year’s Los Angeles Kings and they proved that in an embarrassing 6-2 win over the Blackhawks at the United Center Wednesday night. It was the first home loss in the playoffs for the defending Stanley Cup champs.

The Hawks seemed to have things under control after staking Corey Crawford to a 2-0 second period lead on goals by Nick Leddy and Ben Smith. While shots on goal remained fairly even, Los Angeles was beating the Hawks at their own puck possession game and held huge advantages in faceoff wins and hits. When Justin Williams made the score 2-1 heading into the third period the signs of a bloodletting were in place.

And that’s what happened as the Kings dominated the game’s final 20 minutes. Jeff Carter made an interference penalty on Brandon Bollig count when he tied the score on a power play goal 1:37 into the third. Chicago was later penalized for having too many men on the ice and Jake Muzzin scored on another power play at the 4:04 mark and the rout was on with Los Angeles holding a 3-2.

Tyler Toffoli padded the Kings’ lead with a goal at the 8:59 mark. Carter then made the score 5-2 with a wrist shot at the 14:44 mark and scored a hat trick on an empty net goal with 3:31 remaining.

Crawford, who has been phenomenal throughout the postseason, had traffic in front of him from the end of the second period onward. Meanwhile his LA counterpart, Jonathan Quick, made some amazing saves in the early moments of the game that allowed the Kings to keep close while they found their offensive bearings.

Chicago was also uncharacteristically undisciplined on the ice with sloppy line changes and five penalties, two of them resulting in Los Angeles goals. The Kings have shown a resiliency and ability to put tough losses behind them in these playoffs. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville didn’t absolve his team of culpability after the game.

"I really liked how we played for 38 minutes. We did everything we were looking to do. They got a little momentum at the end of the period scoring a big goal for them on an innocent play, gave them some life.

"The way it turned on a dime like that, I don't know if we've seen a game like that all year where we're doing everything all right and all of a sudden it was a disaster."

Now it’s the Blackhawks’ turn to put a tough loss behind them as the series shifts to Los Angeles. The puck drop for Game 3 is 7 p.m. Chicago time Saturday at the Staples Center.