Kings take control of series with win over Blackhawks

Los Angeles Kings centre Tyler Toffoli scores on Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford during...

Los Angeles Kings centre Tyler Toffoli scores on Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford during Game 3 of the NHL Western Conference final Saturday at Staples Center. (Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:10 PM ET

LOS ANGELES - The L.A. Kings opened Game 3 in heavy-metal style Saturday, getting former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash to blast out the Star Spangled Banner.

They closed it in similar fashion, playing a 40-minute drum solo on the Blackhawks’ morale, pounding Chicago so badly the defending Stanley Cup champions are looking very much like the underdogs in this thing.

In posting a convincing 4-3 decision (it wasn't nearly as close as the score makes it look) the Kings are looking every bit as fast, every bit as determined and every bit as good as their suddenly vulnerable opponent.

Their decided edge in goaltending, which many thought could be the difference in this series, has just won them two games in a row. They’ve outscored the Hawks 10-3 in the last four periods and 1:46.

And now, with two of the next three games here in Los Angeles, the Hawks are a loss away from being in very deep trouble.

“It's never over till it's over,” said Chicago captain Jonathan Toews, whose two goals in the first period weren’t good enough. “It's about how bad we want it. That's that. You know, you don't think that much more about it than that. You don't want to let them take control of the series and to start dictating things. I think it's all about how you think. It's all about that mindset.”

The Hawks wanted to re-establish themselves after giving up six unanswered goals in Game 2, and seemed to be doing exactly that out of the gate.

L.A. had the game’s first power play, but Chicago scored on it after Toews stripped Justin Williams in the neutral zone and putting a shot past Jonathan Quick on a shorthanded breakaway at 5:26.

The Kings managed to break even on the man advantage, tying it 1-1 when Slava Voynov walked in ffrom the point and beat Corey Crawford to the stick side at 6:16.

Toews gave Chicago its second lead of the game at 13:19 when he battled hard for position around the Kings net and cashed in on determination by scoring his eighth of the playoffs.

At that point it looked like the storyline was going to be Toews showing why he’s one of the great leaders in the game by taking control of the series for his team.

Instead, the Kings took control.

Jeff Carter scored his fourth goal in three periods, taking a feed from Tanner Pearson in the slot and putting it in the back of the net before Crawford had time to blink.

After another rather mediocre Chicago power play, the Kings went up 3-2 when Tyler Toffoli pulled away from a pair of Chicago defenders, won the race to a loose puck and scored on a wide-side deke.

The goal was L.A.’s third on 14 shots and the eighth against Crawford in a less than three full periods.

At the other end, Quick seems to be getting stronger as the series goes on.

He made a handful of clutch, if not brilliant, saves when the Hawks were up 2-1, to keep the visitors from pulling away for good.

Heading into Game 3, he was 2-5 with a 2.71 GAA and .895 save percentage against Chicago (compared with 36-23 and a 2.13 GAA and .928 save percentage against everybody else in the playoffs).

He’s had his troubles against the Hawks, obviously, but former U.S.A. teammate Patrick Kane still calls him the toughest obstacle of the series.

“He's a battler,” said Kane. “I know from firsthand experience playing with him in the Olympics. He kept us in a lot of games there and makes a lot of saves that he shouldn't sometimes. It's going to be tough to score on him, we know that.”

The Kings made it 4-2 when Drew Doughty scored in the third, and Chicago made it look close when Patrick Sharp scored with three seconds left in the game.


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