KINGS at BLACKHAWKS
(Chicago leads best-of-7 series, 1-0)
TV: NBCSN, TSN, RDS
Big story: After dropping Game 1 on Saturday night, the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings are trying to avoid going down 2-0 in a series for the second time in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The second game of the Western Conference Final will be played on Sunday, again at United Center (8 p.m. ET) as the tail end of a rare back-to-back format stemming from the Rolling Stones also using the building. Los Angeles fell behind the St. Louis Blues 2-0 after dropping the first two games at Scottrade Center in the quarterfinal round, but stormed back to win the series. The Kings don’t want to go down that path again, especially against the Presidents’ Trophy winners from Chicago.
Kings: All eyes will be on the forward lines at Sunday’s morning skate to see if top center Mike Richards is on the ice. Richards was the recipient of a big hit by Chicago’s Dave Bolland behind the Blackhawks’ net with 1:52 left in the third period of Game 1. He appeared a little dazed skating back to the bench and did not speak with reporters. Losing Richards for any length of time would be a huge obstacle to overcome for the Kings, who already have a tall order trying to slow down the Blackhawks. Chicago led in shots by a 31-14 count after the first two periods of the series opener and scored both goals within four minutes of each other in the second period. The Kings were outshot 17-2 in the first period and know that cannot become a trend.
“This year’s a new year,” Kings defenseman Matt Greene said. “That’s it. You got to get over what happened last year and figure out how to get some offense, and it’s not just the forwards. It’s the [defense], too, jumping up there, keeping pucks in and getting some offensive zone time. That’s what we’ve got to get to [Sunday] night. We’ve got to be better top to bottom [in Game 2].”
Blackhawks: If it weren’t for the outstanding work in net by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, Chicago could’ve easily led by two or more goals after just one period in the series opener. While it’s true that many of the Blackhawks’ 17 shots in the first period weren’t dangerous and came from the outside, Quick also made a couple of great stops on what the Blackhawks call Grade-A chances. Chicago gained more traction up the middle of the ice in the second, putting 14 more shots on goal, and it paid off in goals by Patrick Sharp off a rebound and Marian Hossa off a tipped shot from the point. Now comes Game 2 just 24 hours later.
“We’re excited about it,” Kane said. “It’s good to keep that momentum and keep moving forward. If we lost the game or guys were tired, it might be a little bit different We’re excited about getting the win and keeping that momentum into the next game instead of waiting a few days like we did that last series.”
Who's hot: Patrick Sharp scored his eight goal of the playoffs, which leads the League. Hossa also scored a goal and now has at least one point in four straight games. Williams scored the King’ lone goal in the first game by deflecting Bolland’s clearing attempt from the low slot into the net. Quick stopped 34 of 36 shots he faced.
Injury report: Kings center Jarret Stoll returned from a concussion that was caused by a high hit in the first round by San Jose Sharks forward Raffi Torres.