EVERYONE EXHALE: Blackhawks 3, Kings 2 (Blackhawks lead series 3-1)
What a nailbiter.
The Chicago Blackhawks scored two unanswered goals, one late in the second period, one in the third, to overcome a Los Angeles Kings lead to hand the Kings their first home loss of the postseason. Oh, and now Saturday night turns into an elimination game in Fort Kickass.
And they did it without Duncan Keith, who was serving his one-game suspension. Keith was replaced by Sheldon Brookbank, the Skating Accountant.
Let's get to this:
Ronnie Pickles. A huge goal after Slava Voynov gave the Kings an early lead. He had his second goal, but Patrick Kane tapped it in at the goal line. We might as well get ready for DA HOCKS GOTTA GET DAT BICKELL GUY BACK for the next five years, since he's John Druce-ing his way to a colossal payday. The good part is that the entire city of Chicago gets to go along for the ride.
Kane. QStache threw the lines in a blender, and put Kane back on Jonathan Toews' wing. The result? Not only did Kane get his goal, but he looked like...Patrick Kane the rest of the night. For whatever reason, Kane and Hand Zeus never really gelled. Which is fine since Zeus then got paired with Marian Hossa and they teamed up on the game winner.
Johnny Oduya. And Michal Rozsival. And Niklas Hjalmarsson. And Brent Seabrook. And Nick Leddy. Hell, even The Accountant. With Keith out, the defense needed to step up. How did they do? Oduya and Rozsival had +10 and +11 CORSI ratings, respectively. Hjalmarsson had a pair of assists, and was a beast on the Penalty Kill. Seabrook blocked three shots. Leddy carried the mail. Sure, Brookbank wasn't great. But for a guy who hasn't seen game action for a couple months, and was a #6 defenseman when he played? Nobody promised you a rose garden.
Taking care of business. After taking the first two on home ice, a split in Staples Center was what they were looking for, and they got it. Now they've got the series by the throat. They clamped down hard on the Stanley Cup Champs, holding the Kings to a mere 20 shots on goal, including a measly 2 in the third period.
The Power Play was brutal. They had almost a minute of 5-on-3 time, and had nary a shot on goal. But since the Kings' power play was equally fruitless, no harm no foul I guess.
Dustin Penner was obviously cranky tonight. Clearly he didn't get his usual pregame 4-way Animal Style from In-N-Out. He threw a forearm shiver into Dave Bolland's melon, then high-sticked Kane in the choppers. After calling Keith on the carpet, I'm guessing this merits at least a telephone call.
In the meantime...