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Kings try to close out Blackhawks, advance to Final

by Brian Hedger


(Los Angeles leads best-of-7 series 3-2)


Big story: The Chicago Blackhawks are in the same situation they faced last season and hope to do the same thing to the Los Angeles Kings that they did to the Detroit Red Wings in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Still facing elimination after a 5-4, double-overtime victory in Game 5, the Blackhawks need to win Friday to force Game 7 in the Western Conference Final on Sunday at United Center. Last spring, they trailed their Western Conference Semifinals series against the Red Wings 3-1 but won the last three games, including an overtime victory in Game 7, and they'd love nothing more than to have that scenario in front of them again.

Team Scope:

Blackhawks: Chicago does, indeed, feel like there was a momentum shift in the series thanks to the goal 37-year-old center Michal Handzus scored 2:04 into the second overtime Wednesday. The Blackhawks responded strongly after being pushed to the brink of elimination, and they plan to make it tough on the Kings yet again in Game 6 on Friday.

They might not talk about it a lot, but the Blackhawks do feel there is a burgeoning NHL dynasty sprouting on the west side of Chicago -- one that they take pride in sustaining and growing.

"I think we're going to consider ourselves a team that has a chance to win every year, every time we reach the playoffs for a number of years after this year," captain Jonathan Toews said Thursday. "But it doesn't mean that we're going to be satisfied with that and say, 'OK, maybe this year isn't our year.' I think we have a group that understands the opportunity we have and that it doesn't make any sense to pass that up."

Despite coach Joel Quenneville shortening his bench for much of the third period and overtime, plus the long flight to Los Angeles, the Blackhawks sounded refreshed and ready for Game 6.

"We know what we're capable of in our room, and we're not going to throw it away," Toews said. "We're not going to go away easy. We want to take advantage of it. We made it this far. We're going to keep fighting, and we're going to keep playing as hard as we can."

Kings: Los Angeles is trying not to get caught up in the mind games Chicago started playing through the media prior to Game 5 by insisting all the pressure was on the Kings to close out the series.

The loss Wednesday had to sting, but there were plenty of positives to take into Game 6. The Kings, outshot 45-44, again erased early leads by the Blackhawks, as they had in a 6-2 victory in Game 2 at United Center. This time, the Blackhawks held 2-0 and 3-1 leads that didn't stand up.

After blowing their own 4-3 lead early in the third period, the Kings had numerous chances in the overtime periods to end the series. They don't sound fazed by the fact they couldn't convert any of those opportunities into goals.

"Maybe they're feeling [momentum], but we know we're not going to allow that to happen," said defenseman Drew Doughty, who led the Kings with nine shots and 39:04 of ice time. "We're confident here. We know we could have won that game [Wednesday]. We just had a bad start. We're not going to allow them to take the crowd out. We're not going to allow them to get the early start. It's going to be the other way around this time. "

Who's hot: Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane had assists on four of Chicago's five goals in Game 5, bumping his postseason totals to six goals and nine assists in 17 games. … Kings right wing Dustin Brown has scored a goal in each of the past two games and assisted on linemate Marian Gaborik's NHL-leading 11th goal of the postseason in Game 5.

Injury report: The Blackhawks said Thursday that centers Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger would be ready to go after each was banged up in Game 5. … Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr (knee) has been sidelined since Game 1 of the second-round series against the Anaheim Ducks.

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