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Meanwhile, Out West: Kings (ugh) Also On The Cusp

Though the Blackhawks won game one, the Kings have been dominant in three straight wins to get within a game of their second Stanley Cup Final in three years.

Tyler Toffoli and the Kings celebrate his goal in game three.
Tyler Toffoli and the Kings celebrate his goal in game three.
Harry How

Meeting in the Conference Final for the second year in a row, game one was every bit the tightly contested showdown expected between the Blackhawks and Kings. Chicago got the first break of the series with Brandon Bollig going down rather easily to draw a roughing minor on Alec Martinez, which set the table for Brandon Saad's deflected power play tally. The Angelenos would tie things in the second, barraging Corey Crawford with shots, but Duncan Keith scored what ultimately was the game winner just past the midway mark of the game.

The Hawks once again got off to a strong start, drawing multiple opportunities on the power play before Nick Leddy opened the scoring some five minutes before the end of the first. The teams combined for six penalties in the initial period, Chicago converting on one of their four chances. The lead doubled early in the second period, but the play started to tilt in the visitors favor around the midway mark. Justin Williams' rebound goal before the second intermission gave the Kings the jolt they needed, as LA scored five in the third including a hat trick from Jeff Carter to steal home ice.

Smarting from the third period barrage to end game two, the Blackhawks jumped in front on a pair of goals by captain Jonathan Toews, sandwiching a Slava Voynov power play goal to hold the advantage after one. As had been the case in the previous game, the Chicago defense struggled against the Kings line of Carter, Tyler Toffoli, and Tanner Pearson. The trio dubbed "That 70's Line" found the back of the net twice in the second period to put LA in front, with Drew Doughty adding some insurance just over eight minutes remaining in the third.

Having outshot Chicago each of the previous three games, the Kings came strong out of the chute again and blitzed Crawford in the first period. Jake Muzzin scored on a power play, Marian Gaborik, and Dustin Brown on a man advantage staked the home side to a 3-0 lead at the end of the first, with LA having scored on two of it's first four shots. Doughty pushed the edge to four in the second, and though the Blackhawks would creep within two on a Bryan Bickell goal with just over 10 minutes left in the third period, Pearson assured the result and the 3-1 series lead.