Sports Kings

Kings expect Blackhawks to come back strong after Game 2 collapse

Kings, Blackhawks play Game 3 of Western Conference finals Saturday
Kings, Blackhawks both have experience dealing with setbacks
Kings' Dean Lombardi nominated for general manager of the year

Misery recognizes company.

The Kings were not the only ones to lose the first two games in the first round of the playoffs — they lost the first three — and then were forced to go to a seventh game in the second round.

This is also about the Chicago Blackhawks, who needed every inch of their championship pedigree to rally from a two-game deficit against St. Louis and then required six games versus Minnesota.

It is also a roundabout way of saying a third-period collapse in Game 2 is not expected to have lingering effects on the Blackhawks, the reigning Stanley Cup champions. Certainly the Kings aren't counting on it heading into Game 3 of their Western Conference finals against Chicago on Saturday at Staples Center with the series tied 1-1.

They see a similarly experienced team, a group adept at handling setbacks. Even if the Kings did score six unanswered goals after trailing, 2-0, including five in the third period at Chicago.

"We have no doubt that this game even affected them," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said Friday. "Mentally, they're one of the strongest teams in the league. They're going to come out with their best game in the next game.

"They know what they have to do to play well against us. We haven't shown them all our stuff yet, but we know they're not going to shy away. They're a great team and they've proven that."

Said Kings captain Dustin Brown: "Both teams have been there. Both teams are very experienced at this stage of the playoffs. It's a game-to-game thing. There are momentum swings within the game. With different teams, I guess, you can feel the momentum. This year, more so.

"In the San Jose series, you could feel the momentum building from game to game."

Once the Kings got it going in the series against the Sharks, there was almost a feeling of inevitability, a visible tightness on the San Jose side. Of note, the Kings played one of their best games after one of their worst in San Jose.

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick was pulled in the 7-2 loss in Game 2 at San Jose, and Quick and the Kings were much sharper in Game 3, even though they lost it in overtime.

The Blackhawks lost their first game at home in this postseason after seven wins and goalie Corey Crawford had been 18-2 at United Center, dating to the start of last year's playoffs.

Kings Coach Darryl Sutter downplayed the lasting impact of success or failure on the goaltenders.

"No, both goalies are back-to-back Stanley Cup winners," he said. They're not going to struggle with one second, one shift of that. Both of them are guaranteed prepared to play all night to win a hockey game."

All those weeks ago, the Kings were answering questions about their ability to win on the road in the playoffs. Then they won Game 5 and Game 7, both at San Jose, and took Game 7 at Anaheim. They are merely 3-3 at Staples Center.

"We're comfortable on the road," Brown said. "And I think if you're not comfortable on the road, you're probably not playing this time of the year. Most teams have to find a way to win on the road....

We haven't been very good at home and that's the challenge for us, to have that focus at home."

Forwards Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp don't have a point for the Blackhawks in the first two games of the series, and one change for Game 3 should feature Chicago forward Andrew Shaw on the third line. The injured Shaw had not played since Game 1 of the series against Minnesota and Peter Regin is expected to be out of the lineup.

"It's kind of different when you get blown out in the third period like that compared to a close game you make maybe a little mistake," Crawford said. "That just wasn't our team. Because of that I don't think there's too much worry about it."

Sutter speak

The bigger stage of the conference finals has brought questions for the Kings about Sutter's occasional mysterious ways of communication. Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell said the players sometimes watch Sutter's postgame news conferences on TV.

"He's a little bit coy with you guys," Mitchell said. "That's interesting. We all laugh in the [dressing] room after because obviously his pressers are after the game and we're back in the room. We'll turn it on and have a good laugh. The old Darryl-isms are pretty good."

Mitchell was asked whether he could tell when Sutter is angry.

"Of course. More, the question should be: 'Can I tell when he is happy?'" said Mitchell, laughing.

Executive decision

Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi joined repeat nominees Bob Murray of the Ducks and Montreal's Marc Bergevin as finalists for the NHL General Manager of the Year award, the league announced Friday.

Voting was conducted among all general managers and a panel of NHL executives and reporters. The winner is to be named at the June 24 NHL Awards in Las Vegas.

Staff writer Lance Pugmire contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
Comments
Loading