Chicago Blackhawks vs. Los Angeles Kings: Biggest Takeaways from Game 3

Brad KurtzbergContributor IMay 25, 2014

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Los Angeles Kings: Biggest Takeaways from Game 3

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    The Kings took a 2-1 series lead over the Blackhawks.
    The Kings took a 2-1 series lead over the Blackhawks.Associated Press

    Jeff Carter had a goal and two assists, while Drew Doughty scored once and set up another score as the Los Angeles Kings defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final. The win gave the Kings a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

    Chicago led 2-1 after the first period. Jonathan Toews scored a short-handed goal to open the scoring, but Slava Voynov answered 50 seconds later with a power-play goal to tie the game at 1-1. Another goal by Toews gave Chicago the lead after 20 minutes.

    Carter and Tyler Toffoli scored in the second period to give the Kings the lead. Doughty's third-period goal put the icing on the cake, and the Kings held on for the 4-3 win.

    Game 4 will be played Monday night in Los Angeles.

    Here is a look at the biggest takeaways from Game 3. Feel free to comment on any of the issues discussed here or add one of your own. As always, indicate why you feel the way you do.

Special Teams Provided the Kings with a Big Edge

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    The Blackhawks power play is struggling badly.
    The Blackhawks power play is struggling badly.USA TODAY Sports

    Special teams made a big difference for the Kings in Game 3 and helped key their victory.

    The Blackhawks went 0-of-4 on the power play. They managed only three shots on goal during the game with the extra attacker.

    The Chicago power play not only failed to score, but it's lack of pressure for most of the game disrupted whatever momentum the team was gathering offensively.

    For what it was worth, Chicago's second power-play unit actually created more quality scoring chances than the top line.

    #Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville: “Our power play tonight really didn’t help us. I thought it was the difference in the game.”

    — Mark Potash (@MarkPotash) May 25, 2014

    Meanwhile, the Kings were officially 1-of-3 on the power play and scored another goal just two seconds after a power play officially expired.

    Los Angeles accumulated eight shots on goal during its power plays and gained momentum when it had the extra attacker.

    Jonathan Toews' short-handed goal was the only real special teams highlight for Chicago in Game 3.

    The Blackhawks need to improve their special teams performance if they hope to win this series.

That '70s Line Has Provided Secondary Scoring

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    The Kings have gotten strong offensive production from "That '70s Line."
    The Kings have gotten strong offensive production from "That '70s Line."Chris Carlson/Associated Press

    The Kings needed scoring from a unit besides their top line, and they have gotten it from the trio of Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson.

    This unit has been dubbed "That '70s Line" because all three players wear jersey numbers in the 70s.

    Jeff Carter scored a goal and added two assists to follow up his hat trick in Game 2.

    Toffoli and Pearson were both plus-two for the game. Toffoli scored a goal, while Pearson had an assist. Toffoli has already scored a goal in all three games of this series.

    Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville has to find a way to slow down this line, but that could open up more opportunities for the Kings' top line of Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik and Dustin Brown.

Jonathan Toews Remains the Blackhawks' Most Dangerous Player

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    Jonathan Toews scored twice for the Blackhawks in Game 3.
    Jonathan Toews scored twice for the Blackhawks in Game 3.Chris Carlson/Associated Press

    Jonathan Toews remains Chicago's leader and best all-round player.

    Toews scored twice for the Blackhawks to give them the early lead, including a short-handed goal early in the game. He also finished the game with a plus-one rating.

    Toews seemed dangerous every time he stepped onto the ice. The Kings were aware they had to account for him whenever he had the puck.

    The Blackhawks acknowledged after the game that Toews did all he could to help rally the team.

    "[Toews] led the way and it's up to the rest of us to follow," defenseman Duncan Keith told Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune after the game.

    Toews is already challenging his teammates to do better in Game 4.

    Jonathan Toews: "There’s no time for getting discouraged or getting frustrated. We know we’re going to keep pushing for that next level."

    — Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) May 25, 2014

Jonathan Quick Gives the Kings an Advantage in This Series

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    Jonathan Quick made important saves for the Kings.
    Jonathan Quick made important saves for the Kings.Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Corey Crawford wasn't terrible in Game 3. The Kings certainly set plenty of screens and made life difficult for the Blackhawks' starting goalie for most of Game 3.

    While the loss wasn't necessarily Crawford's fault, he didn't come up with big saves when his team needed them, and he probably wanted at least one of the goals he let in back.

    Corey Crawford sure does give up a lot of softies, doesn't he? Yikes.

    — Seth Rothman (@RothmanHockey) May 25, 2014

    In Game 1, Crawford was the better goalie, but since then, he has been thoroughly outplayed by Jonathan Quick.

    In a series between two evenly matched teams, the Blackhawks need Crawford to be on top of his game. He wasn't.

    Meanwhile, Quick made 24 of 27 saves, which statistically is not outstanding, but he came up big when he needed to, especially in the final 40 minutes of the game. Also, remember, the last Chicago goal came with four seconds left in the game, after the outcome was already decided.

    As of right now, Quick gives the Kings a big edge in goal.

The Kings Are Very Comfortable Playing with a Lead

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    The Kings got stronger in the third period.
    The Kings got stronger in the third period.USA TODAY Sports

    The Los Angeles Kings showed once again how comfortable they are protecting leads.

    Under head coach Darryl Sutter, the Kings are a defensive-oriented team. In fact, they gave up fewer goals than any team in the league during the regular season.

    In the playoffs this year, Los Angeles is now 7-0 when leading after two periods.

    Fall behind after 40 minutes against the Kings, and you're in big trouble.

    Los Angeles held a 3-2 lead when the third period started. Most teams would go into a shell to protect the lead. Instead, the Kings dominated the third period and outshot the Blackhawks 18-7.

    The #LAKings have been putting on a clinic for how to protect a 3rd-period lead. #CHIvsLAK #Blackhawks #StanleyCup #hockeynight

    — Craig Buckser (@cbuckser) May 25, 2014

    Los Angeles had the better scoring chances in the third period, and its strong play forced the Blackhawks to take two penalties. That alone eliminated four valuable minutes from the clock and hampered Chicago's efforts to mount a comeback.

    The Kings increased their lead to 4-2 when Drew Doughty scored just two seconds after a power play expired.

    The Blackhawks should have been more desperate and aggressive in the third period, but the Kings were comfortable protecting their lead, played strong defense and rose to the occasion to secure the win and the series lead.