LA captures Game 3 with controlled desperation - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

LA captures Game 3 with controlled desperation

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Los Angeles Kings played with controlled desperation and defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1 in Game 3. The Kings were the harder working team throughout the opening 40 minutes as the Hawks couldn't manage the puck or generate much offense. In the end the better team won the game and the Kings probably were due for some breaks to go their way and they got some.

Both teams have to deal with the same schedule and playing three games in four days doesn't help either club. Joel Quenneville chose not to have his group practice after arriving in LA on Monday. Maybe that decision will pay benefits later on in the series. On Tuesday night the Hawks were sloppy to start and really couldn't get going until the third period.

Poor passing was happening throughout the game and the Hawks were guilty of many turnovers. The Kings aren't a slow team, but what makes the Blackhawks play slower is bad passing and careless turnovers. The Kings have to be credited with causing some of the problems. They played a more technically sound game and were able to use their forecheck to stifle the Chicago offense.

Los Angeles wasn't going to roll over and they knew Game 3 was a must win. The Kings are a confident bunch, much the like Blackhawks except they have the hardware to draw strength from.

As last year's Stanley Cup winners, the Kings know hard work will eventually lead to success if they get contribution throughout their lineup. Tuesday night their best players led the charge and the supporting cast also outplayed their Blackhawk counterparts.

Kings bench boss Darryl Sutter did his best to light a fire under his club by dropping second line center Anze Kopitar down to the third line. That's an eye opener for the entire team and they responded.

Ironically, since center Mike Richards has been out the Kings have been able to win more faceoffs. Tuesday night they dominated, winning 59% of all draws. Jonathan Toews and Michal Handzus lost more than 60% of their faceoff attempts and that makes the game more difficult for Blackhawks.

The Kings were led by Jeff Carter who moved from wing to center on the first line after Richards was injured. Carter had a fine Game 2 and Tuesday night was the best player on the ice and led the Kings attack. The Kings jumped off to an early lead and Carter seemed to be all over the ice.

The Kings pressured the Hawks from the opening puck drop and got them off their game. Some frustration surfaced early as Patrick Sharp took two opening period penalties. In total the Hawks went to the box five times which also helped to limit their offense. Fortunately the Chicago penalty killers were once again perfect, but playing shorthanded burns more energy as the Kings performed with more discipline.

Duncan Keith made a careless and dangerous play in the second period after he and Carter were roughing each up in the Hawks zone. As Carter skated away Keith swung his stick with one hand and hit Carter in the mouth area. It appeared like Keith was trying to give Carter a whack on the arm and missed. The toe of Keith's stick caught Carter in the face, near his mouth.

Keith quickly apologized and my take is he will be fined but not suspended.

Carter played almost the entire game and Keith did receive a double minor. Keith was angry and careless but seldom does a player hit an opponent from behind with a stick aimed directly at their face. The intent to injure did not appear to be there, but Carter did need some repairs. The NHL should have a ruling later Wednesday if Keith is going to be suspended.

Michal Handzus has done what he can do, but playing with Sharp and Patrick Kane can be a challenge. Handzus is responsible defensively but many times Kane and Sharp are alone as they try to get a rush going. Handzus is trailing the play but doesn't give Kane another option to pass so he isn't as effective. Handzus is the second line center for now and Kane needs to make things work.

Quenneville's post game comments about Kane were subtle but dead on. Kane is most effective when he has the puck on his stick a lot. As Quenneville mentioned Kane needs to find a way to get the puck, and most important he must want it.

By commenting, Kane must want the puck on his shorthand for going to high traffic areas and also working to find open ice to be available for a pass.

The Hawks offense needs to have their top two lines create scoring chances. In Game 3 the Toews line was effective at times and Bryan Bickell did score with a nice individual effort. The Kane line needs to generate more zone time and Tuesday night they were not much of a threat.

The Hawks third line wasn't very noticeable either and maybe Kopitar playing on the Kings third unit made a difference. Andrew Shaw will have to adjust because goals are not easy to come by and a balanced attack works the best.

The Blackhawks defensive structure wasn't good in Game 3 and the Kings could have scored more. Corey Crawford couldn't be faulted on the two goals he gave up, if anything he kept his team in the game.

Defensively the Hawks were sagging in too low and giving the Kings big defensemen prime areas to shoot from. If Drew Doughty keeps getting opportunities to shoot from inside the top of the faceoff circles he will eventually find the back of the net. Doughty almost did score on a few occasions and was unlucky on one attempt when he hit the post.

Niklas Hjalmarsson continues to play well and recorded four blocks. One of the blocked shots may have a lasting effect.

In the third period Hjalmarsson was hit on the inside area of his knee where there isn't much padding as he blocked a hard shot. He was hurt and was barely able skate off the ice. It remains to be seen if there will be any lasting effects.

If Hjalmarsson couldn't play on Thursday night the Hawks could face tough times. His partner, Johnny Oduya isn't playing at a high level and Hjalmarsson has been carrying the duo.

Oduya looks a bit gun shy and is bailing out on some hits. That's a bad sign because if it keeps happening it will hamper Oduya's ability to move the puck and could cause turnovers.

The Chicago defense wasn't crisp and the Kings were able to control the pace because the Hawks didn't exit their zone crisply. Couple the poor passing with turnovers and it shouldn't come as a shock the Hawks were held to 10 shots through 40 minutes and only recorded three shots in the second frame.

The Hawks did have 10 shots in the final period but the Kings were in more of defensive shell. When the Hawks did surge Jonathan Quick was the difference and he made a few big save from close in. One was an incredible stop on Bickell in the waning minutes which would have tied the game.

It will be seen if the Kings can play better than they did in Game 3, which wasn't a thing of beauty to watch. LA got what they deserved and they did come out with more drive and focus so give them high marks for bouncing back.

On Thursday night we will tell if the Kings can win another home game and turn this series up for grabs. For now the Game 3 loss may have been caused more because of a less than effective effort by the Blackhawks.

If the Hawks were feeling too confident this loss should bring them back into focus. It would not be wise to discount the chances of last season's Stanley Cup champions.

I will be back on Friday and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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