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Kings score six in row to even series with Blackhawks

by Corey Masisak

CHICAGO -- The Los Angeles Kings provided a synopsis of their entire postseason in one evening Wednesday.

They yielded two goals on poor transition play to fall behind against an opponent who appeared to be giving them fits with their speed. Then goaltender Jonathan Quick made some saves to keep them in the game, and once the Kings got rolling offensively, they dominated.

Jeff Carter had a hat trick and an assist, part of a six-goal outburst in less than 20 minutes, and the Kings evened the Western Conference Final with a 6-2 victory in Game 2 against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center.

"I think this is a huge game for our approach [and] I guess, our psyche," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "Kind of like slaying the mythical dragon. We've been dominated by this team over the last couple of years. To come in here and get a win in their building with the type of home record they have, I think gives us a boost in confidence."

It was the Blackhawks' first home loss of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs (7-1). Chicago won all three games in this building against Los Angeles last season in the conference final, which the Chicago won in five games. Los Angeles was 0-7 in Chicago in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Game 3 of the best-of-7 series is Saturday at Staples Center (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).

Chicago appeared to be in control and en route to an eighth consecutive home victory, but the game turned quickly and the Blackhawks could not recover.

"I really liked how we played for 38 minutes," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "We did everything we were looking to do. They got a little momentum at the end of the period scoring a big goal for them on an innocent play, gave them some life.

"The way it turned on a dime like that, I don't know if we've seen a game like that all year where we're doing everything all right and all of a sudden it was a disaster."

The themes of this postseason for the Kings have included the ability to put losses behind them and come back from improbable deficits. It's also been about finding scoring throughout the lineup.

Forwards Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik have carried the offense at times, but it was the power play and Carter's line that left the Blackhawks wondering what happened. It was just another disadvantage overturned by the defiant Kings.

"It's not that we're comfortable -- well, maybe we're a little comfortable being behind," Los Angeles center Jarret Stoll said. "We're used to it I guess. You never quit, you can't quit. Crazy things can happen when you score. You can't quit until it's over, and that's all it is. We have the right guys in there and the right coaches and the right attitude. You keep pushing and pushing."

Two power-play goals early in the third period changed the course of the game in short order.

Drew Doughty faked a slap shot at the top of the offensive zone after a pass from Slava Voynov and instead opted for a wrist shot through an array of bodies, including Carter at the edge of the crease. Carter got his stick on the puck and tipped it past goalie Corey Crawford at 1:37 to get the Kings even at 2-2.

Jake Muzzin gave the Kings a 3-2 lead with a power-play goal from the left circle at 4:04 with Chicago playing down a man after a bad line change resulted in a bench minor for too many men on the ice. The Blackhawks had yielded one power-play goal in their first seven playoff games at United Center.

Midway through the third, the rebound of a shot from Carter went high in the air behind Crawford. Several players on the ice slowed or stopped, as if they expected it to hit the protective netting. It did not and landed behind the goal. Kings forward Tanner Pearson retrieved it and sent a pass to fellow rookie Tyler Toffoli, who scored his fifth goal of the postseason at 8:59.

Carter scored two insurance goals after a string of odd-man rushes while the Blackhawks pressed to get back into the game. One came on a 2-on-1 with 5:16 left, the other was into an empty net with 3:31 to go.

Carter's four points in the third period tied an NHL playoff record, and his three goals tied a Kings postseason record set by Tommy Williams on April 14, 1974, against the Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks were up 2-0 and appeared to be en route to a 2-0 series lead, but Justin Williams started the Kings' rally late in the second period. Mike Richards threw the puck to the front of the net and Williams was there to direct it past Crawford for his sixth goal of the postseason with 1:46 left.

"You're bound to give up something," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "If they score a goal to pull within one it doesn't mean they have to score six unanswered. I think we always want to close out periods. We want to try to keep that momentum going into the next one but sometimes it happens. So we just needed to find a way to bounce back early in that third and we didn't do it."

Chicago defenseman Nick Leddy had the only goal of a penalty-filled first period. After Patrick Kane dumped the puck into the zone, the Kings actually created a 3-on-2 shorthanded rush the other way, but Carter couldn't knock down the puck when it came to him at the right post. Instead, Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith corralled it along the wall and sent a long, diagonal pass to Leddy near the Los Angeles blue line. He cut past Matt Greene and backhanded a shot past Quick at 14:16.

Ben Smith made it 2-0 at 1:40 of the second period when Chicago caught Los Angeles during a line change. Defenseman Johnny Oduya collected the puck behind his net and sent a long stretch pass Brandon Bollig deflected onto the stick of Smith at the opposite blue line. Smith was behind the defense and snapped a shot past Quick inside the near post.

The Blackhawks had chances to extend the lead, but Quick was unbeatable after the second goal. The late goal in the second period gave the Kings some added energy, and the third period looked a lot like Game 7 of the Western Conference Second Round Series against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center, with a lot of offense from the team in white.

"We were just staying positive," Doughty said of the Kings' attitude during the second intermission. "We knew we could win this game. We knew we hadn't had our best effort yet. We knew the third period was going to be our best period of this series so far. We were just adamant in here about coming out and getting pressure and getting a goal early, and we did that."

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