Slava Voynov scored a goal and set up another as the Los Angeles Kings beat Chicago 3-1 in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals on Tuesday, trimming the Blackhawks’ series lead to 2-1.
Jonathan Quick made 19 saves, Justin Williams also scored and Dwight King added an empty-net goal in the defending Stanley Cup champions’ 15th consecutive home victory since March. The Kings have won eight straight home playoff games, dating to last season’s title clincher, and they never trailed while ending the top-seeded Blackhawks’ five-game postseason winning streak.
Game 4 is tonight.
Bryan Bickell scored and Corey Crawford stopped 25 shots for the Blackhawks.
The Kings had lost five of their previous seven playoff games before getting back to the friendly Staples Center and their sellout crowd. Quick also returned to Conn Smythe Trophy form in Game 3, highlighted by a dazzling late save on Bickell, while his low-scoring teammates generated just enough offense to hold off the Blackhawks, who had not lost since Game 4 of the second round.
Jeff Carter set up two goals during an inspired effort despite the absence of injured linemate Mike Richards, and Voynov had his fourth multipoint game in a prolific postseason.
The Blackhawks matched their playoff low with just 20 shots, but the Presidents’ Trophy winners were one good bounce away from tying the score in the final minutes.
Brandon Saad nearly had an open net after a cross-ice pass from Viktor Stalberg with five minutes left, but could not collect the puck. Moments later, Keith missed a near-breakaway at the Kings’ blue line when Chicago went offside — and Quick set off a frenzy in the crowd when he improbably stopped Bickell’s fine chance late.
The Kings played their second straight game without Richards, their leading postseason scorer, heading into Game 3. The veteran center has an apparent concussion after a big hit from Dave Bolland in the series opener.
Richards’ absence opened a lineup spot for promising rookie Tyler Toffoli, who has three points in the last two games. The 21-year-old American Hockey League rookie of the year got the primary assist on Voynov’s goal.
After the Kings scored just 11 goals in their past seven games, coach Darryl Sutter shook up his lines, while facing the prospect of a three-game deficit in the conference finals.
Slumping center Anze Kopitar, who might be playing with an injury, was moved back to the third line, while Jarret Stoll moved up to the Kings’ nominal top line between Williams and captain Dustin Brown.
Between the line changes and the desperation necessary in such a situation, the Kings came out with a noticeable edge and improved passing. They took the lead just 3 minutes, 21 seconds in on a strong sequence started and finished by Williams, who forced Nick Leddy’s turnover before scoring on a pass from Voynov.
Williams scored two goals in the Kings’ victory over San Jose in Game 7 last week, further burnishing his reputation as an elite postseason performer. The two-time Stanley Cup winner has six goals in the playoffs — four in the past six games — after scoring just 11 in the 48-game regular season.
The Blackhawks had not been at Staples Center since both clubs’ season opener on Jan. 19, when Chicago spoiled the Kings’ banner-raising ceremony with a 5-2 victory.