Hossa's goal puts Blackhawks closer to Stanley Cup Finals
LOS ANGELES -- Give Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville at least part of the credit for Thursday's 3-2 win over the Kings.
It was Quenneville who tweaked his top two lines late in the second period, and it paid off in goals by Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa to rally the Hawks from a 2-1 deficit.
Kane was bumped up to play with Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell and scored his first goal of the series late in the second period at 18:21 to tie it.
Hossa was dropped to the second line with Michal Handzus and Patrick Sharp and responded with the winning goal at 1:10 of the third period on a 2-on-1 with Handzus.
"Just give them a different look," Bickell said. "Great call by Q because it worked and we're happy to get the win."
Quenneville said he was looking for some sort of spark.
"We were behind and I still didn't mind how we were playing at that point in the game," Quenneville said. "Sometimes you get one, and we did. Scoring early in the third really helped us."
The Hawks played without defenseman Duncan Keith, but it was hard to tell. The Kings had just 2 shots in the third period and were 0-for-3 on the power play.
Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Michal Rozsival and Johnny Oduya responded with monster games, picking up the bulk of Keith's minutes.
"They did a good job of plugging it off and defending the lead," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "The reason they're a great defensive team, and they've been all year, is not just with their goaltender but the way they spread their minutes out.
"Basically what happens is you take that guy out of their lineup and it gives four other top guys a few more minutes. It doesn't really hurt them at all, to be quite honest."
Hjalmarsson had 2 assists and was plus-2 in almost 25 minutes. Seabrook played a game-high 26:20 and had 3 blocked shots and 3 hits. Rozsival played more than 25 minutes and took 32 shifts, 1 fewer than Seabrook.
"I'm just glad I was able to step in there and do a good job," Rozsival said. "I never feel tired after a win. After a loss, I feel tired."
The Hawks lead the Western Conference finals 3-1 and can wrap up the series with a victory in Game 5 on Saturday at the United Center and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.
"We need to just play well defensively," Hossa said. "When we play a checking game we are a much better team. The fourth game is always the toughest when you're trying to close it."
Kane's goal came a day after he sat at his locker and was highly critical of himself about his lack of production. You just knew he was going to have a big game.
"Kaner wanted the puck, had it early and had it a lot," Quenneville said. "He was dangerous off the rush and took some shots through the screens. It was nice to see him score as well."
Kane was determined to make a difference.
"I think the biggest thing was just trying to get the puck any way I could, skate with it, feel into the game, no matter how that was," Kane said. "I thought I did a good job of that."
The Hawks and Kings were tied at 1-1 after the first period with Slava Voynov and Bickell trading goals.
Bickell's goal came at 13:16 and was a gift as Kings goalie Jonathan Quick muffed a wrist shot from between the circles. It was Bickell's eighth goal of the playoffs, trickling into the net off Quick's glove.
Corey Crawford gave the goal right back early in the second period when he pushed a soft rebound to Dustin Penner in front of the net. But in fairness to Crawford, Nick Leddy got beat to the net and Sheldon Brookbank lost Penner in front.
Hjalmarsson wore the alternate captain's "A" for Keith and also played with Seabrook. Rozsival skated with Oduya as Quenneville basically went with four defensemen.
The Hawks' depth was tested for one of the rare times this season.
"We didn't have to go through any adversity through the season and we've been pretty healthy," Rozsival said.
The Hawks missed Keith during a 5-on-3 power play in the second period that lasted 53 seconds. With Leddy in Keith's spot at the left point, the Hawks were never a threat to score and finished with no shots. Leddy spent most of the time looking to set up Hossa to shoot.
The loss was the first of the playoffs at home for the Kings, who had their 15-game winning streak at Staples Center snapped as well.
"It was a huge win, especially the way they're playing at home," Kane said. "I think they won 15 in a row here at the Staples Center, so it was nice to come in and steal one for sure.
"We put ourselves in a good spot, but by no means do we feel the series is over."
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