|CHI Leads Series 3 - 1|
They got it -- the hard way.
After being outplayed in a 3-1 loss in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final on Tuesday, the Blackhawks rebounded with a strong effort in Game 4 on Thursday at Staples Center. Forward Marian Hossa scored the game-winner 70 seconds into the third period as Chicago twice rallied from one-goal deficits to beat the Kings 3-2.
The Blackhawks snapped L.A.'s home winning streak at 15 games and moved within one victory of a trip to the Stanley Cup Final. They have a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series with Game 5 set for Saturday at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).
Los Angeles is 1-7 on the road in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It hadn't lost at home since March 23.
"It's going to be exciting to have a chance to move on in our building," Chicago goalie Corey Crawford said.
Michal Rozsival moved into the top four and accounted for 25:28 of ice time, the most he's played in any 60-minute game this season. Brent Seabrook (game-high 26:20) and Niklas Hjalmarsson (24:57) also logged the most ice time they've played in any game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Johnny Oduya played nearly 23 minutes.
"We talked about it all season, especially in the playoffs, but our team game, our team 'D,' is really what's been doing such a great job," Seabrook said. "[Crawford] in the net has been making some big saves. When the forwards are coming back like they are, it's making it easy for us. We're just trying to get back there quick and get outlet passes for our forwards to play with the puck."
Kane scored for the first time in eight games; Bickell's goal in the first period was his third in as many games. He also had an assist on Kane's goal, giving him his first two-point game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Hossa's goal was his second of the series.
Chicago's power play was scoreless in four chances, including a 53-second 5-on-3 in the second period, but the Blackhawks killed off all three of L.A.'s power plays, improving their League-best penalty kill to 14-for-15 in the series and 54-for-56 in the playoffs.
Their most important kill came late in the third period after Michael Frolik, usually one of Chicago's top penalty-killing forwards, was sent off for high sticking Dustin Brown. The Kings did not get a shot on goal during the two-minute advantage. They had two shots on goal in the entire third period.
"Our forwards were coming back to help out our 'D', but our 'D' were solid and kept them to the outside, blocking shots, clearing stuff," Crawford said. "No real opportunities for them in the slot."
Defenseman Slava Voynov gave L.A. a 1-0 lead 3:28 into the first period with his sixth goal of the playoffs, the most among all defenseman. Left wing Dustin Penner scored his first goal in 11 games 2:12 into the second period to make it 2-1.
Justin Williams had a chance to make it 3-1 with a breakaway less than two minutes after Penner scored, but Crawford came up with a game-changing poke check to keep the deficit at a manageable one goal.
"He made the initial move, he got me to go down," Crawford said, "but I was able to quickly get it out there before he got to the backhand."
It remained 2-1 until Kane swiped the puck into the net off the goal line with 1:39 left in the second period. Bickell was inches from getting his second goal of the night after he got a piece of Hjalmarsson's shot from the top of the zone; the puck was trickling on the goal line, behind Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (25 saves), when Kane dove in from the left side and knocked it in.
"I told [Bickell] I was kind of sorry I stole it from him," Kane said. "It might have went in. [It's] kind of instinctive when you see the puck there, to stick your stick in and touch it."
Kane was much more involved and energetic in Game 4 than he was in any of the three previous games against the Kings. He finished with a game-high seven shots on goal.
"He had the puck early and a lot," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "He's dangerous off the rush. [He] took some shots through the screens. [It's] nice to see him score as well."
Hossa scored the winner 1:10 into the third period as the Kings were in the midst of an ill-advised line change.
Oduya found center Michal Handzus in open ice as the Kings were changing following a successful penalty kill -- and Handzus found Hossa on his right side for a pass that turned into a one-time blast past Quick. Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin was the lone player back for L.A. as defenseman Drew Doughty was caught too high up in the neutral zone because he was about to go off the ice for a change.
Once he saw Handzus with the puck, Doughty couldn't turn around in time to stop the rush.
"They're a good team in transition. We've got to take that away," Quick said. "That's one of the things we've been talking about the last four games, taking that away. It's something we've got to be better at."
Bickell's game-tying goal 13:16 into the first period was one Quick would like to have back.
Both teams were changing lines when Hjalmarsson lifted the puck into the neutral zone. Frolik, who was en route to the bench, chipped the puck back to Bickell, who took one stride and fired a slow, knuckling wrist shot that handcuffed Quick and went off his glove and into the net.
"Bad goal," is how Kings coach Darryl Sutter described it.
The Blackhawks saw it as a fortunate game-tying goal. They also got one late in the second period from Kane. After Hossa scored in the third, Chicago shut it down and rarely let the Kings even get a sniff of the net.
Now all the Blackhawks can smell is a trip to the Stanley Cup Final. They can book it Saturday night.
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