The Los Angeles Kings scored five goals in the third period to transform a troubling two-goal deficit late in the second period into a 6-2 victory Wednesday at United Center that ties the Western Conference finals against the defending Stanley Cup-champion Chicago Blackhawks at one game apiece.
The next two games will be in L.A., with Game 3 at 5 p.m. Saturday at Staples Center.
Forward Jeff Carter had a hat trick in the third period, including an empty net goal, and assisted Tyler Toffoli on another score. Twelve Kings earned a point in the victory.
Drew Doughty also scored in the five-goals-on-twelve-shots barrage that buried Chicago, which owned a 2-0 lead late in the second period and lost for the first time in eight games at home in this postseason.
Kings forward Justin Williams gave the Kings their first goal with 1:46 remaining in the second period, his sixth goal of the playoffs.
Kings 6, Blackhawks 2 (late third period)
Chicago decided to pull its goalie with four minutes left in the game. Jeff Carter decided to make it a hat trick for the night when he collected a loose puck and flipped a shot the halfway down the ice into the open net with 3:31 left to play in the third period.
Kings 5, Blackhawks 2 (5:16 left in third period)
The Kings have turned what appeared late in the second period to be a highly troubling situation into a laugher.
Forward Jeff Carter just scored on a shot from Chicago goalie Corey Crawford's right side, making it 5-2 Kings with 5:16 remaining in the third period.
This is the first time the Blackhawks have given up five goals in the playoffs, with four coming in this final period. Twelve different Kings have figured in the scoring. Carter is the only King with two points.
The Kings were trailing, 2-0, in the second period before scoring their first goal with 1:46 left until the second intermission. It's been all Kings since then.
Kings 4, Blackhawks 2 (11 minutes left in third period)
The floodgates remain open for the Kings, who have scored for a fourth time in a span of 10 minutes 45 seconds of play stretching from late in the second period.
Kings rookie forward Tyler Toffoli sent a wrist shot from the slot past Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford.
It was the Kings' fourth consecutive goal and third of the period as they seek to tie the Western Conference finals at one game apiece. Jeff Carter and Jake Muzzin, who scored the third goal, had the assists to Toffoli, who now has five playoff goals.
Kings 3, Blackhawks 2 (17:50 left in third period)
The Kings needed only 4 minutes 4 seconds the third period to erase a deficit and take a lead on the defending-champion Blackhawks for the first time this season.
Defenseman Jake Muzzin, on the Kings' second power play of the period, fired a shot from the left circle past Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook and goalie Corey Crawford for a 3-2 lead. It was Muzzin's fourth playoff goal.
Kings 2, Blackhawks 2 (early third period)
The Kings have 20 minutes left to avoid coming home down 2-0 in the Western Conference finals.
Just 1:14 into the third period, Blackhawks forward Brandon Bollig commits an interference penalty. Drew Doughty then strikes for his second playoff goal, tying the score with a blast just inside the blue line that beat Chicago goalie Corey Crawford to his right.
Now, the Blackhawks have committed a penalty for too many men on the ice just 2:50 into the period.
Anyone's game ...
Blackhawks 2, Kings 1 (end of second period)
The Kings finally broke through against the Blackhawks and goalie Corey Crawford with 1:46 left in the second period.
Apparently Kings winger Justin Williams decided to bring his Game 7 exploits to this series a little early. Williams scored his sixth goal of the playoffs to cut Chicago's lead in half. Making the play was Kings center Mike Richards, who threw the puck in front and his centering pass went off the skate of Williams and between the pads of Crawford.
The Kings nearly tied it before the end of the period on Dustin Brown's deflection on the ensuing shift after the goal, but Crawford came up with a nice pad save.
Until the Williams-Richards combination clicked near the end of the period, it had been almost all Chicago.
The Blackhawks took a 2-0 lead just 1:40 into the period on winger Ben Smith's breakaway goal following a stretch pass, and nearly expanded their lead with 7:14 left in the period but Kings goalie Jonathan Quick denied defenseman Brent Seabrook on a two-on-one attack.
Blackhawks 2, Kings 0 (3:55 left in second period)
The Kings have less than four minutes to try to cut into the Blackhawks' lead or head into the third period with an unenviable task of trying to hand Chicago its first home loss this postseason with a two-goal deficit.
The two teams have skated the entire second period at full strength. The game is nearly a dead heat statistically, with Chicago having taken 18 shots, nine in each period, to 15 for the Kings, who do lead in hits (22-13) and faceoffs won (27-14).
Blackhawks 2, Kings 0 (18:20 left in second period)
It should always be that easy.
Chicago winger Ben Smith hopped over the boards and about three seconds later scored to make it, 2-0, for the Blackhawks at 1:40 of the second period. Once again, the Kings were done in by Chicago's stretch pass. Then again, many other teams have fallen victim to it.
It was Smith's second goal of the playoffs and getting the lone assist was defenseman Johnny Oduya.
Blackhawks 1, Kings 0 (end of first period)
The Kings spent the first period in reaction mode, a good deal of it in their own end as they killed off three minor penalties and part of another, including 38 seconds of a two-man advantage for the Blackhawks.
Chicago's goal came on a power play after Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell had gone off for cross-checking Peter Regin at 13:08. Defenseman Nick Leddy scored on a breakaway with a backhander past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. Leddy got past Kings defenseman Matt Greene with his speed, sent in off a stretch pass from Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith.
Chicago had 5 minutes 42 seconds of power-play time in the opening perio and, overall, outshot the Kings, 9-8.
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty had his usual big amount of ice time, 9:27, but fellow defenseman Slava Voynov logged even more, 10:07. Doughty went off for holding at 18:48, meaning the Blackhawks will open the second period still on the power play.
The Blackhawks took advantage of a consistent parade of Kings getting sent to the penalty box, finally scoring on their third power play of the game.
Defenseman Duncan Keith sent defenseman Nick Leddy in on a breakaway and Leddy beat Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick with a backhander at 14:14.
Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell was sent off for cross checking at 13:08 when Peter Regin was poised to potentially score after Quick had blocked a shot into the air and the puck fell behind him in the crease. Mitchell cross checked Regin before to could get his stick on the puck, which began to slide across the goal line.
Rookie forward Tyler Toffoli, though, saved the all but certain goal by redirecting the puck off the goal line. The play was reviewed and it was ruled no goal.
The Kings will have their first power-play opportunity in Game 2 against the Blackhawks midway through the opening period.
The Kings have killed off the first two penalties of the game, including 38 seconds when the Blackhawks had a two-man advantage.
While Mitchell was in the box, defenseman Matt Greene was caught hooking Brandon Saad, who had brought the puck up ice along the boards and made a strong move to the inside with a clear path to the goal.
The Los Angeles Kings will try to take home-ice advantage away from the Chicago Blackhawks when the last two Stanley Cup champions play tonight in Game 2 of their best-of-seven series at United Center.
As the Kings know from last season's conference finals, the Blackhawks are tough to beat in Chicago.
"Hopefully the Los Angeles Kings can beat them once," L.A. Coach Darryl Sutter said when asked what makes the Blackhawks, who are still undefeated at home this postseason, so tough at United Center. "Think they won the Stanley Cup last year because they're not a great home-ice team? Doesn't all of a sudden happen in playoffs. They're historically a great home-ice team."
The only lineup change for the Kings is on defense. Veteran Matt Greene, who was a healthy scratch for Game 1, is back in and Jeff Schultz is out. Schultz had been in the lineup since Game 2 of the second-round series against Anaheim.
The Blackhawks defeated the Kings, 3-1, in Game 1 on Sunday, less than 40 hours after L.A. had won Game 7 of their second-round series over the Ducks in Anaheim.
Chicago Coach Joel Quenneville expects the Kings to be more aggressive tonight.
“We expect a dangerous team,” Quenneville said. “Whenever they face adversity, they seem to rise to the occasion and they’re a great road team.
“We expect them to come at us very hard. They’re going to push the pace, [so] let’s be aware of what they’re going to do, but let’s be the team that sets the tone.”