The L.A. Kings are one win away from making it back to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in three years. Meanwhile, the defending champs, the Chicago Blackhawks, are on the verge of elimination.
The Kings, champions two years ago, got off to a roaring start in a pivotal Game 4 Monday, stunning the Blackhawks by opening up a three-goal lead in the first period, before adding to that in the second period, before finally taking this one by a final of 5-2. The Kings now lead the best-of-seven Western Conference Final 3-1.
For the Blackhawks, it was a disastrous start. They were given two chances on the power play before the game was even 10 minutes old, but their second advantage was wiped out when Marian Hossa was involved in a crease collision with Kings’ goalie Jonathan Quick and called for goalie interference.
One play early in a game. True. But L.A. eventually got the power play and made Chicago pay, when Jake Muzzin beat Corey Crawford with a perfect wrist shot. Difficult for the Blackhawks goalie to make any kind of save with Jeff Carter standing right in front of the net.
The Blachawks did make things interesting, after it earlier appeared like they would get run out of the building by the host Kings.
Brandon Saad got Chicago on the board with a beautiful backhand shot in the second period, and Bryan Bickell cut the deficit to two goals before the midway point of the third.
They wouldn’t get any closer. That’s not three straight losses in these playoffs for Chicago. Their top players struggled throughout Monday’s game, with L.A. capitalizing in the first period on turnovers from Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith.
Patrick Kane, who didn’t have a point in this series through the first three games, added an assist on the Bickell goal, but he hasn’t scored in the last four games.
The series shifts back to Chicago, and the Kings have a chance to eliminate the Blackhawks.