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The Key Three: March 11

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Three key aspects of the Kings’ 3-2 shootout victory over the Chicago Blackhawks...

In highly uncharacteristic fashion, Jonathan Quick had allowed four goals in each of his two previous starts. Was something wrong? Was Quick, who has played a large number of minutes this season, wearing down? The normal Quick returned last night, as he turned in a brilliant 35-save effort. He allowed only two goals -- one of which came after his own teammate knocked him out of the play -- made a handful of eye-popping saves and was at his best in 1-on-1 situations. Quick stopped Viktor Stalberg’s penalty-shot attempt in the third period, then stopped all six Chicago attempts in the shootout. Deservedly, Quick was the game’s first star.

When Chicago’s Patrick Kane scored to tie the game, 7:36 into the third period, one can only imagine what thoughts might have been running through the heads of the Kings’ players. The thoughts were probably some variation of, ``Uh oh, not again...’’ Just two nights earlier, the Kings had coughed up a third -period lead and lost to Detroit. This time, the Blackhawks tied the game and had a ton of momentum, with more than 12 minutes remaining on the clock. The Blackhawks certainly had their chances in the third -- they outshot the Kings 16-7 -- but as noted above, Quick was stellar and the entire team played with enough poise.

At the end of a stretch in which they played 14 out of their last 18 games on the road, would the Kings have anything left in the tank against Chicago? The Blackhawks came into the game with a stellar 23-7-4 home record, and had to be motivated after being shut out by the Kings in the teams’ previous two meetings. The Kings, though, had a near-perfect start. They early scored moments after the opening faceoff and then, after a great save by Quick, they started a 4-on-1 break that led to Slava Voynov’s goal at the 1:17 mark. The Blackhawks regrouped and eventually took over the game, but the Kings started strong and never trailed.
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