Excuse the generalization, but NHL teams generally handle leads in two ways: by sitting back and trying not to make mistakes or continuing to take a business-as-usual approach.
In at least the past two games, the Los Angeles Kings haven’t taken their feet off the gas pedal after gaining leads against the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s something that wasn’t lost on Jonathan Toews after the Kings’ impressive 4-3 win in Game 3:
From a simple perspective, the Kings have dominated more than the scoring (6-1 with Patrick Sharp’s goal being largely irrelevant) in the third period of Games 2 and 3. They generated a 12-6 shot advantage in the third period of Game 2 and upped it to 18-7 in Game 3’s final frame.
While one might attribute it to the Blackhawks feeling deflated after some Kings goals, you can see from these Extra Skater charts that Toews appears correct regarding Los Angeles only picking up its play after scoring:
Despite double-digit shot totals for the Kings, Jeff Carter believes that team defense explains why Los Angeles enjoyed significant third-period outputs.
“I think that comes from the guys in our room. We have a lot of character guys, played in a lot of big games, know how to win,” Carter said. “We play a strong defensive game. I think that’s really where a lot of our offense and all that comes from. We lock it down.”
It says a lot about the Kings’ determination and talent that they seem to turn it up a notch when the Blackhawks have been in desperate situations, yet head coach Darryl Sutter kept things in perspective.
“I don’t think we dominated them; we just outscored ’em,” Sutter said.
Whatever way you slice it, the Blackhawks saw leads slip away in both of these games while the Kings only seemed to get stronger in similar situations. Chicago could be in big trouble if they don’t find answers soon.