The Los Angeles Kings beat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-2 on Wednesday night, in turn tying up the two teams’ Western Conference Finals series at one game apiece. The win was a massive one for the Kings, as it gave them momentum in the series as the games head back to Los Angeles, and moreover showed that they can indeed take down Chicago.
For much of the game, it did not appear as if the Kings would win, as they trailed 2-0 midway through the second period and 2-0 after two frames, and generally were being outworked by Chicago. A renewed vigor and determination changed the tide in the third period, though, as a Jeff Carter hat-trick led a five-goal outburst and physical dominance that went unanswered.
Throughout the entirety of the game, Los Angeles dominated in the trenches, winning the faceoff battle 43-27, and the hit chart 35-23. The Kings will not ever match the pure skill and speed that Chicago displays, but the likes of Dustin Brown, Willie Mitchell and Jarret Stoll bring a mix of size and physicality which wears down both opposing forwards and defenders. This proved itself true Wednesday night, and there is no doubting that the likes of Carter, Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and company enjoyed the extra time and space that came with the weary legs of Chicago defenders in the third period.
Of course, talking about the Kings would never be complete without mentioning Jonathan Quick, and the goaltender was once again excellent in Game 2. During the first two periods he fended off multiple great scoring chances, slowing down the game with timely saves and keeping the game at bay when it looked like Chicago could take a huge lead. All in all, there is no player left in the playoffs who is as consistent and dominant as Quick, and his mere presence gives the Kings an opportunity to win any game they play in.
Moving forward, Los Angeles clearly has the momentum in this series, especially since the series is shifting back to the Staples Center. Add in that they have a mix of physicality on both ends of the puck, impact playmakers and the dominance of Quick, and the Kings may be the team most likely to win the Stanley Cup.