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Kings aim for second trip to Cup Final in three years

by Alex Kinkopf / Los Angeles Kings

BLACKHAWKS (9-7) at KINGS (11-7)


ONE AWAY: The Kings are looking to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second time in three years tonight. With a 3-1 series lead on the Chicago Blackhawks, the Kings can’t put themselves in a position of comfort. The Blackhawks overcame a 1-3 series deficit last season, winning three straight games to beat the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Semifinals.

FROM EVERY ANGLE: The Kings came into the playoffs known as the league’s stingiest defensive team, but it’s their offense that has lifted them to much of their success this postseason. Marian Gaborik leads the NHL with 10 goals, while Anze Kopitar leads the league with 17 assists, and total points scored with 22. Including Jeff Carter’s 20 points (8G, 12A) and Justin Williams’ 15 points (6G, 9A) the Kings have four of the NHL’s top six postseason scorers in their lineup. Can they show up again tonight?

CRAWFORD AND KEYS: During their last three wins of this series, the Kings have beaten Corey Crawford for a combined 13 goals on 82 shots. They’ve done so with beaming success on their power play, and have been able to embrace that productivity by keeping Chicago’s power play off the board since Game 1. Can the Kings hound Crawford early tonight, while keeping Chicago’s power play off the slate once again?

BIG GAME RICK: Mike Richards scored the final goal for the Kings last season in their Game 5 loss to the Chicago Blackhaws at United Center. Richards extended the game to OT with a goal in the final seconds of regulation, but Patrick Kane ended the Kings’ season in double-OT. Richards potted a goal and an assist when the Kings last eliminated a team -- the Ducks in Game 7. Can he anchor his fourth-line to some offensive production in Game 5 tonight?

DOUGHTY: “Tonight’s an important game. If we don’t win this game tonight, I think the momentum is back with them, and we know how good this team is at winning, and how hard they’re going to battle to win the entire series. They’re not looking at it as just one game at a time, they want to win the entire thing, win three in a row. We have to close it out tonight.”

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