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Dustin Brown #23 of the Los Angeles Kings battles with Brandon Saad #20 of the Chicago Blackhawks in the first period in Game Six of the Western Conference Final during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Staples Center on May 30, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.
Drew Doughty and Alec Martinez scored third period goals to give the Los Angeles Kings a lead, but Duncan Keith and Patrick Kane both scored for the Chicago Blackhawks as they grabbed a 4-3 victory on Friday night to force a seventh game in the Western Conference Final.
Dwight King also scored for the Kings in the losing effort. Kane and Ben Smith each had goals in the second period for the Blackhawks as they won their second consecutive game.
The game got off to a rousing start as the Blackhawks pushed the tempo early and often. Marian Hossa had a huge shot from in close that Jonathan Quick was able to shoulder aside, and then Slava Voynov made a beautiful diving poke check to prevent a shot on goal by Andrew Shaw on the doorstep. Finally Patrick Sharp had his first quality chance of the contest, but Quick made the save and prevented a rebound by shoving the puck into the corner.
After a few minutes, the Kings seemed to get their legs underneath them, and started racking up chances of their own. Dwight King had a partial breakaway after a defensive lapse by Chicago, but Brandon Saad was able to get back and force him into taking a bad shot. Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson also picked up scoring chances, but both of their shots were denied by Corey Crawford.
The Blackhawks ended up getting a power play in the later stages of the period, but they weren’t able to get anything going. The Kings’ aggressive forecheck really slowed things down, and the Hawks were unable to get a single shot on goal during the sequence.
Seizing the momentum, the Kings once again established residency in the Blackhawks’ zone, and ultimately they were able to score the first goal of the game. With Brent Seabrook losing a foot race against Jarret Stoll behind the net, King skated freely through the slot and fired home a one-timer off a great feed to give the Kings a 1-0 lead with less than three minutes remaining in the first period.
The Kings got a couple more shots on goal in the closing stages of the period, but Crawford slammed the door to keep the advantage at just one goal after 20 minutes of play.
As the second period got underway, the Blackhawks got an early power play and they took full advantage. After some quick puck movement that got the Kings out of their defensive lanes, Jonathan Toews found Patrick Kane with a quick pass from behind the net, and the Hawks' forward fired a one-timer shot past Quick to tie the game up at 1-1.
Just a few minutes later, the Blackhawks scored again to take the lead. This time it was Ben Smith doing the honors, taking a shot from behind the goal line that he bounced off of Quick's skate and into the cage to put the Blackhawks up by a score of 2-1. Sharp had a 2-on-0 opportunity just a few moments later, but his shot was barely stopped by Quick as it ricocheted off the goaltender's glove and off the crossbar to keep the Los Angeles deficit at just one goal.
Fueled by that close call, the Kings' offense got its groove back and started firing in shots from all angles. Niklas Hjalmarsson made a great play to prevent a shot from Willie Mitchell on a 3-on-2 rush, and Crawford made several key saves in a row, including one on a shot from Marian Gaborik as the Blackhawks held onto their slim lead.
Late in the period, both goaltenders made key saves as Crawford stopped an Alec Martinez wraparound and Quick stopped a Brandon Saad shot from the slot. After the horn sounded for the second intermission, both goaltenders seemed to want to continue the battle as they met at center ice and butted heads, but teammates interceded before the argument could descend into a fistfight.
As the third period got underway, it was the Kings who came out and immediately took charge of the proceedings as they tied things up. Drew Doughty made a magnificent play to keep the puck in the zone, and his slap shot beat Crawford through a screen by Mike Richards to knot the game up at 2-2.
Just a few moments later, the Blackhawks gave the Kings a power play opportunity thanks to a Toews penalty, and Los Angeles took advantage. Doughty once again made an excellent play to corral the puck near the blue line, and when he passed it to Alec Martinez, his fellow defenseman wired in a shot through Crawford's legs to put the Kings up 3-2.
The goal seemed to snap the Blackhawks out of their complacency, and they tied things up a short time later. Kane made a really smart play as he circled the zone to get the defense moving, and when Duncan Keith pinched through the slot, Kane hit him with a pass. The defenseman then ripped a shot past Quick to tie things up at 3-3 near the halfway mark of the period.
The Blackhawks weren't done yet however as they took a 4-3 lead with less than four minutes left in the period. Kane once again made the critical play for his team as he skated along the boards, and when he released his wrist shot, Quick couldn't stop it as the Blackhawks seized an advantage that they would never relinquish.
Losers of two straight games, the Kings will look to win their third Game 7 of these playoffs when they take on the Blackhawks Sunday night at the United Center. The game will begin at 5pm Pacific time, and the contest can be seen on NBCSN.