Blackhawks one win from Stanley Cup berth after 3-2 Game 4 win
BY MARK LAZERUS email@example.com June 6, 2013 8:54PM
- Bickell rising, Stalberg fading for Blackhawks
- With top defenseman Duncan Keith suspended, Blackhawks turn to Brookbank
- Blackhawks and their fans deny Kings the comforts of home
- Blackhawks’ vets pick up slack for missing Keith
- VIDEO: Joel Quenneville on Sheldon Brookbank stepping up
- VIDEO: Joel Quenneville on playing without Duncan Keith
- VIDEO: Blackhawks’ Bryan Bickell on his recent scoring success
Updated: June 7, 2013 2:46PM
LOS ANGELES — The Blackhawks were missing one star Thursday night, but found two who had been largely missing during the Western Conference final. As a result, they’re one win away from the Stanley Cup Final.
Marian Hossa scored 70 seconds into the third period, Patrick Kane finally got on the board and Bryan Bickell had yet another big game as the Blackhawks escaped L.A. with a 3-2 victory in Thursday night’s Game 4. With the win, the Hawks survived Duncan Keith’s one-game suspension, erased two one-goal deficits, ended the Kings’ perfect postseason home record, and moved within one win of the Stanley Cup Final.
The Hawks can take that final step on Saturday night at the United Center in Game 5.
“We were proud to break that stretch,” Niklas Hjalmarsson said of the Kings’ 15-game home win streak, eight of which came in the playoffs. “We had a goal to try to at least steal one game here. Mission accomplished.”
With the Hawks’ blue-line depth making up for Keith’s absence — Michal Rozsival played more than 25 minutes as Sheldon Brookbank struggled to a minus-2 night in less than seven minutes — it was the top guys that finally broke through offensively. Kane, who sounded like a guy giving himself a pep talk after practice on Wednesday, got the equalizer. And Hossa, who spoke earlier Thursday about how little time and space the Kings defense had been allowing, got the winner.
Offense was easier to come by in this one, as both teams’ forwards aggressively applied pressure in the offensive zone, yielding many good scoring chances. The Hawks had 11 shots in the first period in Game 4; they had just 10 through the first two periods in Game 3.
“It’s always much [more] fun when the goal-scorers put the puck in the net,” said Hossa, who rifled a shot past Jonathan Quick on a two-on-one with Michal Handzus shortly after a Hawks power play expired early in the third. “You just all of a sudden feel a little bit lighter, and more confident. But at this stage, it doesn’t really matter who scores the goals, as long as we find a way to win.”
After Slava Voynov (who else?) gave the Kings an early 1-0 lead 3:21 into the game, Bickell (who else?) got the equalizer at the 13:16 mark, knuckling a long wrist shot off Quick’s glove and in. Like Hossa’s goal, it came as the Kings were in the midst of a line change.
It was Bickell’s eighth goal of the playoffs — tying Patrick Sharp for the team lead, one off the league lead and one more than Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby.
And after Dustin Penner beat Brookbank and Corey Crawford (19 saves) to Jeff Carter’s centering shot early in the second for a 2-1 Kings lead, it was Bickell who again evened things up — though Kane got the credit. With 1:39 left in the period, Bickell deflected Hjalmarsson’s blue-line blast past Quick, but Kane swooped in at the last second and finished it off as it crossed the goal line.
“I told Bicksie I was sorry,” Kane said. “I probably stole it from him.”
Bickell didn’t mind. In an odd role-reversal, he was happy to give Kane a boost.
“Just to make sure it goes in, I’ll take it,” Bickell said. “He’ll take it, too, to give him a little spark and get that confidence again.”
Kane — reunited with Jonathan Toews shortly before his goal — looked like his old self again the rest of the way, buzzing around the ice and creating scoring chances before and after Hossa fired the game-winner past Quick.
The Hawks now have a 3-1 lead, confidence, momentum, and a former Norris Trophy-winning defenseman in Keith coming back to the lineup for Game 5. The Final — which could start as early as Wednesday if they and the Boston Bruins close out their series this weekend — is tantalizingly close.
“We know it’s not finished yet,” Hossa said. “We need to win one more. We’ve got to make sure we are ready at home.”