LOS ANGELES – They’re heading back to Chicago.
The Kings held Patrick Kane without a goal through the first five games of this series. Tonight, he was the difference maker; opening and closing the scoring for the Blackhawks Friday night at STAPLES Center. Kane buried the game-winner with 3:45 remaining in regulation.
For the second straight game, the Kings allowed four goals in regulation time; something they cannot afford if they expect to eliminate the Blackhawks from the postseason.
“I don’t think we can expect to give up four goals on in game,” Captain Dustin Brown told reporters following the game. “It’s been our problem the last two games, giving up too many goals and that’s the result of making mistakes in the neutral zone and mistakes on coverage. If we clean that up, we’re good.”
The Kings’ offense was the first to show Friday night, Dwight King sending a wrist shot past Corey Crawford from high atop the slot to give the Kings a 1-0 lead with 2:57 left in the first period. It was King’s second goal of the playoffs, and his second point in as many games.
In the opening minutes of the second, Chicago’s offense, and Patrick Kane, awoke.
Kane tied the game with a power play goal 1:12 into the second, and Ben Smith followed suit 1:47 after Kane’s equalizer, banking a puck off of Jonathan Quick’s skate from behind the net to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead less than three minutes into the middle frame.
Drew Doughty, who led all players in Game 5 with nine shots, wristed home the Kings’ third goal of the evening just over five minutes into the third period. Doughty hopped on a deflected pass, and walked in with plenty of time and space to beat Corey Crawford with a laser of a wrist shot low to the left side.
Just over two minutes after Doughty tied the game at 3-3, he assisted on Alec Martinez’s go-ahead goal. Doughty, atop the right circle, backhanded a no-look pass to Martinez in the slot, and he fired it past Crawford to give the Kings a 4-3 lead with 12:22 left on the clock.
Chicago, facing elimination, held their composure, and showed outstanding poise in the minutes after the Kings regained the lead.
Duncan Keith tied the game at 4-4, finishing an impressive sequence of cycling and puck control where the Blackhawks were able to put the Kings back on their heels. Keith’s goal knotted the score with 8:26 to play.
Then, Chicago’s most dangerous weapon, Patrick Kane, topped it off. With time winding down in the third period, Kane found space atop the Kings’ zone while three of his teammates positioned themselves in front of and around Jonathan Quick.
Kane, who noticed the traffic in front of Quick, sent a quick snapshot that found it’s way through the heed of traffic Chicago placed in front of the Kings’ net, and past Jonathan Quick, giving the Blackhawks a 4-3 lead with 3:45 left to play.
The Kings couldn’t muster any more magic with the little time they had to respond. Jonathan Quick made 21 saves on Chicago’s 25 shots, and the Kings fell by a final score of 4-3.
Drew Doughty was instrumental once again, posting two points (1G, 1A), two hits, and three blocked shots in 26:10 of playing time.
“We’ve got to learn from it, we’ve got to move on,” Doughty told reporters Friday night following the 4-3 loss. “We have a one game playoff here in their building to punch a ticket to the finals, and we have to focus and learn from our mistakes tonight and go in there ready to play.”
The series shifts back to Chicago for Game 7 on Sunday, which is slated for a 5:00 PM PST start at the United Center.