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Blackhawks vs Kings - 2013 Western Conference Final

Right-wing switch pays off big for Blackhawks

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES -- Coaches switch their forward lines with great frequency when their teams are trailing, so Joel Quenneville's decision to flip his top two right wings near the end of the second period Thursday night wasn't out of the ordinary.

Little did he know how much impact one simple move could have.

Quenneville switched Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa on the right side of his top two lines -- and both players scored as to help the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final.

"When you score like that, it helps," Quenneville said after his team moved within one victory of a trip to the Stanley Cup Final. "Sometimes you're doing it just to change things. We were behind. I still didn't mind the way we were playing at that point of the game. Maybe you get one, and we did. But scoring early in the third really helped us."

Kane went to the penalty box for tripping at 12:39 of the second period. Not long after returning to the ice, he was moved to the right side with center Jonathan Toews and left wing Bryan Bickell. Their second shift together was a dominant one that led to the game-tying goal.

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Kings now look to 'steal one' and extend series

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

LOS ANGELES -- The previous time the Los Angeles Kings faced a 3-1 series deficit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they were an up-and-coming team with young talent spilling out of their pocket. General manager Dean Lombardi's long-term plan was opening like a tulip.

They won Game 5 on the road against the San Jose Sharks before being bounced from the 2011 Western Conference Quarterfinals in six.

"I think we kind of played loose then," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said Thursday after his team fell into an identical hole against the Chicago Blackhawks in the current Western Conference Final.

"We weren't expected to win that series against San Jose, I don't think. Now that we're down 3-1, people aren't expecting us to [win], so we can go in there as if we have no pressure on us. We can go in there and play our game. Play hard and steal one from them in front of their home fans."

It was a positive outlook on what looks like a formidable task.

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Turnovers by Kings turned game toward Blackhawks

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

LOS ANGELES -- Dustin Penner tossed his black hockey bag to the side in a huff and looked as if he just finished a 90-second shift. The Los Angeles Kings forward turned to a group of reporters and cameras and summed up the difference in a 3-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final on Thursday.

"Turnovers in the neutral zone at both our blue line and their blue line," Penner said. "Untimely goals against. [We] kill off a couple of big penalties and then give up a 2-on-1 because of a bad change."

Penner rudely dismissed another question about how well Chicago skated and, when asked about the level of frustration, said, "I think you got the point."

It was that kind of night Thursday for Penner and the Kings: Winded from chasing the puck and keeping it out of their end, and frustrated over trailing 3-1 in the best-of-7 series.

Sloppiness and ill-timed line changes cost the Kings two goals. The Blackhawks' game-winner came off a neutral-zone turnover as L.A. changed and defenseman Drew Doughty was left to try to thwart a 2-on-1 finished by a rocket one-time blast from Marian Hossa that made it 3-2 1:10 into the third period.

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Rozsival handles increased workload flawlessly

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Michal Rozsival
Defense - CHI
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 0
SOG: 11 | +/-: 5
LOS ANGELES -- Michal Rozsival knew how good he had to be for the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final the moment he was told that he'd be paired with Johnny Oduya.

The move into the top four, necessitated by Duncan Keith's one-game suspension for high-sticking Jeff Carter in Game 3, meant Rozsival would likely play more minutes than he's used to and have more responsibility in the Blackhawks' special teams.

He passed every test Thursday night and helped lift Chicago to a 3-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. The Blackhawks lead the best-of-7 series 3-1 and can advance to the Stanley Cup Final with a victory in Game 5 at United Center on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).

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Five players to watch in Game 4 of Western Final

Thursday, 06.06.2013 / 5:50 PM / Blackhawks vs Kings - 2013 Western Conference Final

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

LOS ANGELES -- The Western Conference Final is three games old and many of the storylines either are untold or unfolding in the wake of the latest suspension.

The Chicago Blackhawks will play their first game without defenseman Duncan Keith after Keith was suspended for a high stick to Los Angeles Kings forward Jeff Carter in Game 3. It's the second straight Stanley Cup Playoff series that the Kings have seen an opposing player suspended for an illegal play; Raffi Torres of the San Jose Sharks was suspended for the conference semifinals for his hit on Jarret Stoll in Game 1.

The St. Louis Blues and Sharks each had the Kings on the ropes but couldn't finish. Can Chicago take a 3-1 series lead without Keith, or will the meat-grinder Los Angeles team churn this into another best-of-3 series?

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Pressure, chemistry key Hawks' near-flawless PK

Thursday, 06.06.2013 / 5:26 PM / Blackhawks vs Kings - 2013 Western Conference Final

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES -- Killing penalties isn't a glamorous task, but when the Chicago Blackhawks get rolling shorthanded, it can be a beautiful scene to witness.

The defending champion Los Angeles Kings were dynamite on the penalty kill during the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, erasing more than 92 percent of opponents' chances with the man-advantage, but the Blackhawks have been even better in 2013.

Chicago has been shorthanded 53 times in these playoffs, and the Blackhawks' penalty killers have been triumphant on 51 occasions, including 10-for-11 against Los Angeles in this year's ongoing Western Conference Final.

"We definitely take pride in our PK, whether it's blocking shots, keeping the puck out of the zone," Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "[Goalie Corey Crawford] has been outstanding. … You know, I think it is helping us win games; that's the end goal. Our PK has been a big part of that. L.A. has a big power play. Detroit obviously had a good power play. We'll try to go in with our chances and try to be solid on it."

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Blackhawks face replacing Keith 'in all situations'

Wednesday, 06.05.2013 / 8:32 PM / Blackhawks vs Kings - 2013 Western Conference Final

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES -- The Chicago Blackhawks struggled to possess the puck in Game 3 the way they were able to in the first two contests of the Western Conference Final, and that task could be even tougher Thursday in Game 4 (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, RDS, TSN).

Duncan Keith
Defense - CHI
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 9 | PTS: 10
SOG: 34 | +/-: 5
Chicago's top defenseman, Duncan Keith, was suspended for one game by the NHL's Department of Player Safety on Wednesday for a one-handed high-stick to the face of Los Angeles Kings forward Jeff Carter in Game 3.

Keith is one of the best defensemen in the sport and critical to the Blackhawks' success. Chicago leads the best-of-7 series 2-1 after a 3-1 loss Tuesday.

"He's a big a part of our team, obviously. To see stuff like that on the ice is scary, but it's obviously incidental," Chicago forward Patrick Kane said Wednesday before the suspension was announced. "He eats up a lot of ice. He's a guy that's in great shape. He never gets tired out there. He's tireless. Especially on the back end with a guy that can move the puck like that, plays in all situations -- power play, penalty kill -- it's a huge part of this team."

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Kane looks for answers to scoring drought

Wednesday, 06.05.2013 / 8:00 PM / Blackhawks vs Kings - 2013 Western Conference Final

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

LOS ANGELES -- Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane went back to an old, reliable habit a few days ago to try to pull himself out of a prolonged scoring slump.

"The other day, myself and my dad watched all my playoff goals from my career," Kane said Wednesday from Staples Center. "It's cool to watch those things, it gives you a little confidence. [We were] looking for anything, the way they defend, the way I play -- anything."

Patrick Kane
Right Wing - CHI
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 8 | PTS: 10
SOG: 50 | +/-: 3
They were watching a lot of video from 2009 and 2010, because Kane has three goals in 28 Stanley Cup Playoff games since scoring the Cup-winning overtime goal in Game 6 against the Philadelphia Flyers three years ago. He was held without a goal for a season-high seventh straight game Tuesday night as the Los Angeles Kings picked up a 3-1 win to pull within 2-1 in the best-of-7 Western Conference Final series.

Kane opened up following practice Wednesday concerning his lack of production in the current postseason, saying he has an idea what he has to do to pull out of his current slump. He said it's as much about effort as it is about execution, two areas in which he has to be better Thursday in Game 4 here (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

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Kings' Carter speaking up with quality of play

Wednesday, 06.05.2013 / 6:11 PM / Blackhawks vs Kings - 2013 Western Conference Final

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Jeff Carter hasn't opened his mouth much publicly during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and when he did Wednesday it wasn't pretty.

Visually speaking, the Los Angeles Kings forward had a cut on his chin and a bottom tooth was missing, although that had nothing to do with a high stick he received from Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final.

"I had a tough practice in Chicago," Carter said. "My bridge fell out, so those were already gone, but I chipped the one tooth and cracked a couple on the bottom but I didn't actually lose any" from the Keith incident.

Carter said he received about 20 stitches to close the cut and was a little sore, but otherwise was feeling all right. A 3-1 win that pulled the Los Angeles Kings within 2-1 in the best-of-7 series went a long way toward healing the injuries. As expected, Carter wouldn't comment on what he thought of Keith's play but he did go over it for the first time.

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Improved play in neutral zone sparks Kings

Wednesday, 06.05.2013 / 2:18 AM / Blackhawks vs Kings - 2013 Western Conference Final

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

LOS ANGELES -- Goals aren't scored in the neutral zone, but games can be won or lost there. The Western Conference Final is the latest example of the importance of that 50-feet-by-85-feet area in the middle of the ice.

The Chicago Blackhawks dominated the neutral zone in Games 1 and 2. They came out to Los Angeles with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.

The Los Angeles Kings were without a shadow of a doubt the better team in the neutral zone in Game 3 on Tuesday at Staples Center -- and they got back into the series with a 3-1 victory.

Here are four reasons that showed how the Kings were able to flip it on the Blackhawks in Game 3:

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Quote of the Day

Great players need great players to play with. That's why we'll have a training camp and we'll find who the best two guys are suited to play with Stamkos.

— Tampa Bay Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness on Steven Stamkos' potential linemates for the 2014-15 season