After dispatching the St. Louis Blues and the Minnesota Wild in their six-game NHL playoffs series, the Chicago Blackhawks now await the winner of the Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings series, which resumes Wednesday night (8:30 p.m. NBCSN) in Los Angeles with the Ducks leading the series 3-2.
Here are 9 things you need to know about the Ducks and the Kings.
If Anaheim wins, the Ducks will open the Western Conference Finals at home against the Blackhawks. If Los Angeles goes on to win this series, the Blackhawks would open the conference finals at home.
Los Angeles, which is a loss away from being eliminated in the playoffs, faced that same situation four times in its first-round series against San Jose. The Kings won Game 7 for the right to play Anaheim Ducks.
After losing the first two games at home to the Kings, the Ducks have won three straight in this Freeway Faceoff series. A win would give the Ducks their first trip to the Western Conference finals since 2007. The Kings, of course, won the Stanley Cup title in 2012, going 16-4, and lost to the Blackhawks last summer in the conference finals.
Minding the nets:
The Kings need a great defensive effort in front of goalie Jonathan Quick, who has been bested by Anaheim rookie goalie John Gibson in two straight outings. Gibson has stopped 67 of 70 shots while winning his first two NHL playoff games. Gibson, from Pittsburgh, made his NHL debut with three victories late in the regular season, and then got the Game 4 start in place of veteran Jonas Hiller, who started the first two games against Los Angeles.
How they there got here:
The Kings rallied from a 3-0 deficit with four straight wins to beat the San Jose Sharks. The Ducks clinched their last playoff series on the road in Game 6 over Dallas, but they needed two late regulation goals and an overtime winner to get it done.
The Kings must generate offense from somebody besides Marian Gaborik, whose NHL-best eight playoff goals are double the total of any teammate. Los Angeles has 11 goals in five games in the series, including just five goals in its three straight losses. Devante Smith-Pelly is the Ducks' unlikely leader with five postseason goals, including three in the last two games.
Until Monday's win at home by Anaheim, the road team had won every game in the first series between these rivals two West Coast rivals.
Even in a series that featured a game interrupted by an earthquake, the Kings and Ducks had their most memorable meeting in January. That's when Jonas Hiller and the Ducks shut out Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium in the NHL's first warm-weather outdoor game.
Against the Hawks:
The Blackhawks finished 2-0-1 against Anaheim this season, and were 3-0 against Los Angeles.
Feb. 5 away: Hawks 3, Ducks 0
Feb. 3 away: Hawks 5, Kings 3
Jan. 17 home: Hawks 4, Ducks 2
Dec. 30 home: Hawks 1, Kings 0
Dec. 15 home: Hawks 3, Kings 1
Dec. 6 home: Ducks 3, Hawks 2 (SO)
Sources: Associated Press, ChicagoBlackhawks.com