LOS ANGELES -- Bryan Bickell's magical postseason continued Tuesday night, but he was inches away from it reaching mythical proportions.
Bickell scored late in the second period of Game 3 in this Western Conference Final at Staples Center to give his sluggish Chicago Blackhawks a lift, but it was his late shot that didn't go in that proved to be a critical moment in a 3-1 victory for the Los Angeles Kings.
"I felt like we had some good momentum going into the third, but [Jonathan Quick] made a big save with about [three] minutes left against me too," Bickell said. "It would have been different, but give it to him -- he played well."
With the Blackhawks pressing for a tying goal in a 2-1 contest, Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith sent a wrist shot from the left point towards a collection of bodies in front of the Los Angeles net. Kings defenseman Drew Doughty was credited with blocking the shot, but Bickell obtained the rebound.
He pulled the puck away from the fray and had what he thought was a clean look with Quick down on the ice. Quick stuck his right arm out in desperation, and stopped Bickell's shot with the inside of his blocker.
"Yeah, I thought he was ... I knew I had an open net, but it seems like he makes a handful of those saves in every series," Bickell said. "Give it to him -- he didn't give up. If we had got that, I don't know, we could have maybe carried it to OT and you never know what happens there."
The only reason the Blackhawks were in that situation down a goal was because Bickell had cut a two-goal deficit in half in the final minute of the second period. There was a faceoff in the left circle of the Kings' zone, and the puck went into the corner.
Both Los Angeles defensemen fell to the ice after engaging with Marian Hossa, and Bickell was there to collect the loose puck. He went around the net and then put a shot underneath Quick instead of trying a more typical stuff inside the near post.
"I saw that there was a mix-up at the harsh marks and the d-man had fell, so I just had some more time," Bickell said. "I just brought it out. I think he was suspecting the stuff, too. I was just happy to get that by to give us a spark."
Added Keith: "It was definitely a big goal by him. It got us going a little better going into the third. It was just that one goal, that one-goal difference, but give them credit -- they hung onto the lead."
It was Bickell's seventh goal of the postseason. He's now tied for second in the League in that category. Among the 11 players who have at least six goals in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Bickell is the only one who averages fewer than 16 minutes of ice time per game.
Bickell did not play in the final nine minutes of the first period. In his final shift of the first, Los Angeles defenseman Robyn Regehr nailed him with an open-ice hit, and then a few seconds later Bickell missed Regehr in the corner and glanced off the boards pretty hard.
He said it was a matchup situation, and not an injury that kept him from taking his regular shifts.
Bickell did come back and play in the second period, and he added another tally to his total. The rugged forward is a breakout star in this postseason, but Bickell hasn't felt any extra attention on the ice to this point. That could change if he keeps scoring, of course.
"I'm playing with two of the best players playing right now in Hossa and [Jonathan] Toews," Bickell said. "I think teams need to pay attention to them. If they try to put more focus on me, then I know that's going to leave someone open between those two. I've been fortunate to get the goals when I have. I just need to keep this going and help the team."