LOS ANGELES | The Blackhawks misplaced their mojo Tuesday night, lost a game and could be down a defenseman, as well.
Chicago didn’t want to give the Los Angeles Kings reason to feel alive in the Western Conference finals at Staples Center. However, by playing what several of them characterized as a sluggish first 30 to 35 minutes, the Blackhawks did just that, as the defending Stanley Cup champions climbed back into the best-of-seven series with a 3-1 victory.
The Kings, now 8-0 at home this postseason, got goals from Justin Williams in the first period and Slava Voynov — on hockey’s version of a broken-bat base hit — in the second, plus an empty-netter from Dwight King in the final minute.
Chicago had little spark until Bryan Bickell’s goal at 19:26 of the second period cut the L.A. lead to 2-1. The Hawks regained their assertiveness in the third period, but L.A. goalie Jonathan Quick stopped all 10 Chicago shots on goal in the third period.
Meanwhile, defenseman Duncan Keith may be getting a call Wednesday from Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s Director of Player Safety, regarding his availability for Thursday’s Game 4. Keith scuffled with L.A.’s Jeff Carter at the side of the net midway through the second period, but as the two headed back up ice, Keith high-sticked Carter in the face, drawing a double-minor.
The skirmish began when Keith lost his glove, and Carter whacked him across the bare hand with his stick.
“I went to give him a tap,” Keith said. “It was just a little scuffle. I said I was sorry. It was an accident.”
Carter, who had a gash on his chin and may require dental work, returned to the game. The Hawks killed off the four-minute power play, which started the shift in momentum.
By and large, though, Chicago’s players filed this one away under F, for flat.
“We didn’t want to give them any feeling that they’re alive, and that they’re getting the momentum back in the series,” Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “But they played a good game, and we didn’t have enough to get the result we wanted to.
“Their work ethic and their speed and physical play, that led to everything else. And we didn’t quite match them in that regard. As a team, we have more energy and more speed than we showed tonight. That’s something we can improve on.”
Williams fired a bullet from the left circle past Corey Crawford at 3:21 of the first period, after stealing the puck from Nick Leddy. But the goal that hurt was Voynov’s at 6:37 of the second period, a shot that broke his stick and that squirted past Crawford.
“I think I was in pretty good position when he made contact, but I just slid right out of the net as the puck crawled toward him," Crawford said. “Half the net was open. It was definitely a tough bounce.”
Bickell took advantage of some confusion late in the period, bringing the puck out from behind the net and delaying briefly while Quick went down, then lifting it past him.
“Their D-man fell, so I just had some more time,” he said. “I think he (Quick) was suspecting a stuff. I just happened to get it by, and it gave us a spark.
“The first two periods we didn’t do too much to put pressure on him. I felt coming into the third we had some momentum with that late goal. Mostly, we need to feed off what we did in the third. We just need to be flat-out better.”