Kings' Voynov making his presence felt
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LOS ANGELES — Kings defenseman Slava Voynov has become a difference-maker. At least he was in Game 3.
Voynov had a goal and assist in the 3-1 win for Los Angeles, giving him the Kings' team record for most playoff goals by a defenseman with 5.
"You have unsung heroes always at playoff time the farther you go," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said Wednesday. "Basically what happens, if you don't make the playoffs, what are perceived as star players take the heat, or coaches.
"As you go further down the road in playoffs, the only way you do it is by having great depth.
"There are guys that get a little bit more spotlight, usually because of offensive production. So when you talk about someone like Voynov, that's why we put him in a lot of situations to excel at what his skill set is.
"Basically what you're asking him to do is maximize his skill set. Simple. If you do that, you get an opportunity to play in those situations."
Voynov is not very big, but he matches up well with the game's bigger players.
"I think there's a lot of talk made about size, you know, big teams and all that. Quite honestly, it's a bunch of bull," Sutter said. "When you look at the actual stats part of it, I think everybody's team average is 6-1 and about 204.
"That's what our team is; that's what their team is. Some guys are just under it, some just over it.
"Is there a big stature difference? I don't think so. We try and have him so he's not always on the ice against (Marian) Hossa and (Bryan) Bickell, so he's more into his skill set, so he can maximize his skill set, not put the square peg in the round hole."
Change of direction:
The goal Slava Voynov scored in Game 3 gave the Kings a 2-0 lead and fooled Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford because the defenseman broke his stick on the shot.
"I slid out for the shot," Crawford said. "I don't think I had time to get up and be set for it, so I kind of slid out. When he made contact with the puck, I think I was in a good spot and then the fact the puck came so slow to the net, I just slid out of position. There was probably half the net open by the time the puck got to me.
"Just a misplay on my part. It was kind of an unusual play. It doesn't happen too often. I just have to be ready next time."
Picking it up:
The Hawks hope to pick up in Game 4 on Thursday where they left off in Game 3 in the third period.
"I would say the latter part of the third is the pace we're looking for," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "The things that we addressed going into the game we didn't accomplish. Your system doesn't look very good when you don't have everybody going at the same pace.
"When you don't play at the level you want there's erosion in your game all over the place. It's our level of intensity that nullified what we really wanted to do. Give them credit because they had a better pace than we did."
Fine and dandy:
Hawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson was able to practice Wednesday and showed no ill affects from the shot he blocked in the third period, when he basically had to crawl to the bench.
"I've seen Hammer take a lot of blows and it's tough to knock him down," Joel Quenneville said. "It was definitely a relief to see him get up."
Home sweet home:
The Kings have won eight straight at home and are 15-0 at Staples Center over the past two postseasons.
They are 1-7 on the road this year.
"I think we just come out and we always have great starts," Kings forward Kyle Clifford said. "It kind of gets us going early on and trickles throughout the game."
Kings center Mike Richards skated for about 15 minutes Wednesday with the extras.
"It's obviously great to see him out there," Jeff Carter said. "I don't know anything more than that, other than he skated today. If we can get him back at some point in this series, whenever it is, it's a huge lift to our team."
Carter moved to center from wing to replace Richards.
"I'm very comfortable playing in the middle," Carter said. "I think it gives me a little more kind of free rein, if you will."
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