Last year this series at the same stage of the playoffs looked completely different. Now? The Los Angeles Kings take a 2-1 lead in the series after beating the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 in game 3 thanks to three straight goals in the second and third periods to take over the clash, with Jeff Carter in exceptional form, adding a goal and two assists.
The Blackhawks started out well with Jonathan Toews scoring twice in the first period to give his team a 2-1 lead; first thanks to an exceptional steal and terrible positioning from the Kings defense and the second one coming from some impressive goal area skill display, reaching eight goals in the postseason. The problem was the Blackhawks never could compete with the Kings’ second line and Corey Crawford struggling defending against long range shots.
The Kings and the Blackhawks seemed even through the first two periods as the Kings came back with goals from Jeff Carter and the tie-breaker from Tyler Toffoli, but the third period was all Kings, as Drew Doughty blasted another one from long range that went past Crawford, giving the Kings a two goal lead which the Blackhawks found a way to respond to a bit too late, getting a consolation goal from Patrick Sharp with 19:55 on the clock in the third.
Right now it seems like the threesome of Toffoli, Carter and Tanner Pearson is a bit too much for the Blackhawks. Toffoli commended Carter and how fun it is to play with him. Carter spoke about the connection Toffoli and Pearson have since their time together in the minors, which makes it even more fun for him to be dragged along with them. The Blackhawks have someone to follow: Jonathan Towes, but the problem is that sometimes he feels a bit above the rest, with no one raising their levels to his.
We all want to win in here, and Toews is obviously our captain and leader. He definitely led the way tonight, but we need everybody if we are going to beat this team and try to win one here. Toews came out and led the way. It’s up to the rest of us to follow that. Once they got the lead, they seemed to get the momentum, and we couldn’t quite find our way back into the game. It’s up to us to play better with those leads.
For the second time in two games, the Kings go on a scoring onslaught the Blackhawks simply found no way to respond to. Instead of bouncing back, the third period was all about the Kings putting on pressure (18 shots to 7) and keeping the Blackhawks far away from looking like a team that can mount a comeback. For every game and problem they’ve encountered in these playoffs, the Kings seem to always raise their game at some point without anyone being able to follow.
Kings games are filled with celebrities, which sometimes seems to be in clash with the basics of this sport. However, this is no longer a team that seems to be in the wrong sport and in the wrong city. This group of players, some of them champions from 2012 and others joining in to try and recreate the magic, are on the warpath again, playing the same kind of resilient and sometimes lucky hockey that got them the cup two years ago, with the Blackhawks unable to respond so far.