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Kings in trouble after losing Game 4 to Blackhawks

Despite scoring first and taking a one-goal lead in the second period, Los Angeles falls to Chicago, 3-2, and is on the verge of elimination in the Western Conference finals.

June 06, 2013|By Lisa Dillman

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Jeff Carter had one, and so did Anze Kopitar.

The rub was that they were merely shots on goal by the Kings' centers in the third period, not goals.

Only two shots on goal in the final 20 minutes and a lack of sustained urgency put the defending Stanley Cup champions in the toughest of spots. The Kings now face what could be their last shot at survival in the Western Conference finals against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Chicago defeated the Kings, 3-2, on Thursday night in Game 4 at Staples Center, taking a 3-1 lead in the series, ending the Kings' eight-game home playoff winning streak. It was the first time they lost at home since March 23 against Vancouver, a run of 15 games.

BOX SCORE: Blackhawks 3, Kings 2

Game 5 is Saturday in Chicago, where the Kings lost the first two games of this series.

“We've been through a lot as a group and never been faced with a situation like this,” Kings captain Dustin Brown said. “We're leaning on each other at this point. It's not going to be one individual. That's been the strength of this group for a few years now, really relying on each other and trusting each other when we get in a tough spot."

Big picture: The road-challenged Kings, 1-7 in the playoffs, would have to win twice at the United Center and three straight games overall. Overcoming a 3-1 playoff deficit almost never used to happen in the NHL, but while it does occur more often (hello, Boston), those comebacks are few and far between.

The Kings did it in 1989 against the Edmonton Oilers, but that Kings team had Wayne Gretzky on it.

Any goal scoring would be welcome for the Kings these days. They played their third consecutive game without center Mike Richards, who was their leading playoff scorer until he went out with a concussion.

The Kings would have needed to score twice to win in the third period after the Blackhawks took a 3-2 lead, just 70 seconds in, but the last time the Kings managed to score four goals was in Game 2 of the second round against the San Jose Sharks.

They squandered leads of 1-0 and 2-1, attained by goals from defenseman Slava Voynov, at 3:28 of the first, and left winger Dustin Penner, at 2:12 of the second. But Chicago, playing without its No. 1 defenseman, the suspended Duncan Keith, stayed resilient and forced the Kings into numerous turnovers, taking advantage of a bad line change on the game-winner, at 1:10 of the third.

The goal came from Marian Hossa, off a two-on-one, set up by linemate and former King Michal Handzus, the 36-year-old who has found new life in Chicago.

“He's more playmaker than shooter, when he had the puck in his hands,” Hossa said. “I knew I just needed to open myself up and he would give it to me.”

The other two Chicago goals came from the surging Bryan Bickell, who put a wrister past Jonathan Quick to make it 1-1 in the first, a rare soft goal, and Patrick Kane, who ended a seven-game scoring slump, assisting Bickell's shot across the goal line, at 18:21 of the second.

“It's an incredibly skilled team,” Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi said. “We're not getting into something that we didn't know. When you turn the puck over like that at the blue line, with the skill they have, it's only a matter of time before they're going to put one on the scoreboard.”

Then there was the Kings' failure to generate much on the power play. They went 0 for 3 with the man advantage and were given a chance to break the game open a little more than a minute after Voynov's goal made it 1-0. The Blackhawks' Andrew Shaw went off for slashing at 4:39, and the Kings failed to get a shot on goal on their ensuing power play.

It was a buzz kill on multiple levels.

“There's turning points in every game whether you win or lose,” Penner said. “There's turning points between putting a game wide open or keeping it tight. ... The power play could have made it a lot tougher on the Hawks tonight.”

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