LOS ANGELES – Chicago’s Jonathan Toews looked to send an early message; the Kings responded accordingly.
For the second straight game, the Kings overcame a shaky start and poured on the offense late, nixing two one-goal deficits while four different players scored and eight players recorded at least one point in Saturday night’s 4-3 win at STAPLES Center.
One of those players, Tyler Toffoli, continued his remarkable postseason scoring in his third consecutive game.
“I’m having fun, this is incredible,” Toffoli told reporters following the game. “Obviously as a young guy, you dream of being in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the past three games have been probably my best three games of the playoffs so you just have to keep playing hard and you want to win, so I’m just trying to help the team.”
Toffoli certainly helped the team, but not before he saw a proven commodity do it to the Kings early Saturday night.
Blackhawks’ Captain Jonathan Toews came out determined, netting two goals for Chicago in the first period, one of which the Kings would get back when defenseman Slava Voynov buried his second goal of the playoffs, his first in 16 games.
Coming on the Kings’ first power play of the evening, Voynov caught a pass from Jeff Carter that was intended for Marian Gaborik, and with plenty of time and space atop the point, double-clutched and sent a rocket past Chicago’s Corey Crawford.
Voynov’s goal came just 40 seconds after Toews’ opening tally, knotting the contest 1-1 just over six minutes into the game. Toews would chip home his second goal of the night later in the period, sending the Kings into the dressing room facing a 2-1 deficit.
The Kings registered only four shots during the second period, but found the net twice, thanks to a second line that’s been on an absolute tear as of late.
Just over eight minutes into the second, Tanner Pearson fought for positioning and puck control behind Chicago’s net. After evading Blackhawks defenders, Pearson dished Jeff Carter a quick pass in front of the net, which Carter snuck home high to the right side of Corey Crawford.
Carter’s goal, his fourth of the series, tied the score 2-2 with 11:52 to play in the middle frame.
Later in the period, Carter’s line struck again – this time via Tyler Toffoli. Toffoli, after receiving a lead pass in the neutral zone from Carter, sped through three Blackhawks players and walked in alone on Corey Crawford. Toffoli, with a swift move to the right, beat Crawford through the five-hole, giving the Kings a 3-2 lead with 5:41 to play in the second.
Toffoli has now scored a goal in each game of this series, and now has 10 points (6G, 4A) in 17 playoff games.
The Kings came out firing in the third period after firing off a lowly four shots in the second period. They hounded Corey Crawford with 17 shots in the final 20 minutes, but only one found it’s way past the Blackhawks’ goaltender.
With just over eight minutes remaining in regulation, and the Kings on the tail end of a power play, Drew Doughty slammed home the insurance marker with a howitzer from the right point. Doughty’s goal developed off of a Jarret Stoll faceoff win. Stoll drew the puck back to Jake Muzzin, who find Doughty with a cross-ice pass.
Doughty took two strides in and fired, beating Corey Crawford low to the left side, a shot the Blackhawks’ goaltender had absolutely no chance to handle. Doughty’s goal gave the Kings a 4-2 lead with 8:03 left to play. It was only Doughty’s second goal of the playoffs, but the Kings’ defenseman has three points (1G, 2A) in the last two.
Patrick Sharp netted a goal with four seconds remaining to cut the score to 4-3, but there was no time for Chicago to take another crack.
Jonathan Quick made 24 saves on Chicago’s 27 shots.
The line of Tyler Toffoli (3G, 1A) – Jeff Carter (5G, 5A) – Tanner Pearson (1G, 4A) has combined for 19 points (9G, 10A) over the last four games. Jeff Carter has seven points (4G, 3A) in the last two games alone.
Since the Kings found themselves down 0-3 to the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, they’ve gone an outstanding 10-4, and have outscored their opponents 48-28 during that span. Since the Kings hoisted the Stanley Cup at STAPLES Center on June 11, 2012, they’ve won 13 of 17 postseason games played on home ice.
Game 4 is slated to be played on Monday evening at STAPLES Center, scheduled for a 6:00 PM PST start.