The Chicago Blackhawks halted the Los Angeles Kings' eight-game home winning streak in the playoffs, taking Game Four of the Western Conference Final 3-2 and giving the Blackhawks a 3-1 series lead.
Chicago faced a big challenge coming into the game as they were without the services of suspended D Duncan Keith. In Keith's absence, Niklas Hjalmarsson contributed two assists and played 24:57, his high time on ice mark for this postseason.
It wasn't just Hjalmarsson that stepped up, however. Veteran Michal Rozsival played 25:28, his second-highest total all season (he played 27:11 in Game One of the playoffs, an OT win against Minnesota). Not only did Rozsival play, but he and partner Johnny Oduya had the best possession numbers on the Blackhawks.
Blackhawks RW Patrick Kane has been maligned for his playoff performance (no goals, two assists in his last seven games), but came to play in Game Four, registering a game-high seven shots on goal as well as scoring Chicago's second goal. It was the second time in the playoffs that Kane had seven shots on goal, following a season in which his single-game high had been six shots on goal.
Marian Hossa scored the winning goal for Chicago. He has seven points (3 G, 4 A) and is plus-6 in the last seven games.
Blackhawks LW Bryan Bickell scored another goal, giving him eight in 16 playoff games, after a regular season in which he scored nine in 48 games.
Kings C Anze Kopitar continues to have trouble putting points on the board. It was his fourth straight game without a point, leaving him with three points in the last dozen playoff games. While Kopitar isn't necessarily a huge volume shooter (a career-low 2.1 per game during the regular season), he was held to one shot on goal Thursday, giving him 28 shots in 17 playoff games (1.65 per game). Tough to score when you're not generating chances. Kopitar's not alone, either. LW Dustin Brown and D Drew Doughty were both held without shots on goal in Game Four.
The Kings' offence did come from familiar faces. D Slava Voynov scored again, his sixth of the playoffs (after six goals in 48 regular season games) and Dustin Penner, from linemates Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli, had the other Los Angeles goal. The Carter line is ostensibly the second line, but has been the Kings' best in all three games that it has been together (since Mike Richards was hurt in Game One).
Los Angeles is in a tough spot and the only answer is to score more goals. They are 1-for-14 (7.1%) on the power play in this series and have scored a total of 16 goals in their last nine games. As well as Jonathan Quick has played, that's leaving no margin for error. Down three games to one, the Kings as a whole are now left with no margin for error if they are going to defend their crown.
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.