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Kings seek third straight win against Blackhawks

by Brian Hedger


(Los Angeles leads best-of-7 series 2-1)


Big story: The Los Angeles Kings will look to take a commanding lead against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final. The Kings have outscored the Blackhawks 10-4 in the past five periods, and Chicago dropped the first road game of a series for the 10th straight time dating back to the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs in a 4-3 loss at Staples Center on Saturday night.

The Kings lead the Stanley Cup Playoffs in goals (56), averaging 3.29 per game compared to 2.87 per game for the Blackhawks.

"We've had a good track record of coming back in series, so hopefully history can repeat itself and we can do it again," Chicago right wing Patrick Kane said Sunday. "It's not going to be easy. L.A.'s playing pretty well, and we know if they have momentum, they're maybe the best team in the League, and have been the best team in the playoffs when they do have momentum. We have to try to get it back from them and sustain it."

Team Scope:

Kings: The second line of left wing Tanner Pearson, center Jeff Carter and right wing Tyler Toffoli, dubbed "That 70s Line" because all three wear numbers in the 70s, has wreaked havoc on the Blackhawks. So far in the series, Carter has five goals, Toffoli has three goals, and Pearson has four assists.

In Game 3, Carter and Toffoli scored huge goals. Carter tied it 2-2 at 8:08 of the second, and Toffoli gave the Kings their first lead, 3-2, when he scored off a rush about six minutes later. The top lines are mostly canceling each other out, but the Blackhawks haven't found a line to negate Carter's line yet.

"That whole line has created a lot for the momentum of our hockey team throughout games," center Mike Richards said. "It seems whenever the other team's starting to create momentum or has momentum, they step up in a big way. Those three, they don't need much room. They just seem to find the areas. They're all natural goal-scorers, and especially Jeff is just a natural goal-scorer. He doesn't need much room and chances to add to the list."

The Los Angeles power play is also giving Chicago's penalty kill fits, scoring goals on three of its past seven man advantages over the past two games.

Blackhawks: Chicago committed some regrettable infractions in Game 3, and the Kings made the Blackhawks pay dearly with another power-play goal. Los Angeles defenseman Drew Doughty's goal in the third came two seconds after a power play had expired; it turned out to be the game-winning goal.

Aside from figuring out a way to deal with the Kings' strategy once set up in the offensive zone, the Blackhawks need to be more disciplined to prevent as many shorthanded situations. Veteran forward Michal Handzus' penalty for covering the puck with his hand led to Slava Voynov's power-play goal in Game 3, then defenseman Michal Rozsival's high-sticking minor essentially had Chicago down a man on Doughty's goal.

The Blackhawks have been outshot by a wide margin in at least one period of all three games, including 18-7 in the third period in Game 3.

Kane, left wing Patrick Sharp and right wing Marian Hossa have one goal and four points combined against the Kings. Kane struggled against Los Angeles early in the 2013 Western Conference Final as well before breaking out with big goals in Games 4 and 5.

"You hope history repeats itself and you can do the same thing," Kane said. "I think scoring a goal like that last year [to clinch the series in Game 5] probably propelled me into playing well the rest of the playoffs, but you can't go into games thinking about scoring or thinking you've got to have a big point night. That's only going to set [you] up for failure. The better way to engage it is try to play fast, try to command the puck, try to get in and make plays and hopefully see a result at the end of the night."

Chicago is struggling on the power play in road games. The Blackhawks went 0-for-4 in Game 3 and are 1-for-21 (last in the NHL) in the playoffs.

Who's hot: Toffoli has scored one goal in each of the first three games for Los Angeles. … Chicago captain Jonathan Toews scored his second and third goals of the series in the first period of Game 3. He leads the team with eight postseason goals.

Injury report: Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr (knee) is out. He has not played since Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round series against the Anaheim Ducks and has not resumed skating.

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