LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jeff Carter had a goal and two assists, Tyler Toffoli scored the tiebreaking goal late in the second period, and the Los Angeles Kings beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on Saturday night to take a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference finals.
Drew Doughty had a third-period goal and an assist, and Jonathan Quick made 24 saves as the Kings returned to Staples Center with an impressive two-way effort against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Captain Jonathan Toews scored twice in the first period for the Blackhawks, but they didn’t score again until Patrick Sharp’s goal with 5 seconds left.
Corey Crawford stopped 28 shots for the Blackhawks, who have lost the first road game in 10 consecutive playoff series since 2010.
Game 4 is Monday night at Staples Center.
Slava Voynov scored an early power-play goal as the Kings moved halfway to their second Stanley Cup final in three years.
Three days after the Kings evened the series by scoring six consecutive goals in the final 22 minutes of Game 2, Los Angeles didn’t relax and rely on its NHL-best defense.
Neither team played conservatively despite the stakes, instead trading tantalizing scoring chances for the first two periods. The Kings kept pushing for goals even while leading in the third, recording 18 shots and keeping the talented Blackhawks stuck in their own end for long stretches.
Los Angeles got another monster game from the line led by Carter, the imposing goal-scorer who had four points in the third period of Game 2. In a 6:11 span of the second period of Game 3, Carter scored the tying goal off Tanner Pearson’s pass before setting up the go-ahead score by Toffoli, who has a goal in every game of the conference finals.
After Toews stressed the importance of playing with some anger in Game 3, the Canadian Olympian produced his first multigoal performance in 63 playoff games since May 7, 2010, when he had a hat trick against Vancouver.
The Blackhawks beat Los Angeles in five games in the conference finals last season, but the rematch hasn’t been nearly as smooth for Chicago. Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell haven’t score a goal in the conference finals, while Sharp’s last-gasp goal was his first of the series.
The Blackhawks had their usual hundreds of red-clad fans in an otherwise black-and-white Staples Center crowd, and Toews put Chicago ahead just 5:26 into Game 3 with a spectacular unassisted goal, stealing the puck from Justin Williams and beating Quick between the legs.
Just 50 seconds later, Voynov skated into the slot and beat Crawford with a slap shot. Voynov, a target of criticism from Kings fans this season, hadn’t scored since the Kings’ first-round opener 37 days ago.
Toews connected again later in the period on a rebound of Michal Rozsival’s shot after a prolonged period of puck possession.
After surviving a long period of Chicago pressure, the Kings evened it in the second period when Pearson corralled a puck that hit a referee behind the net and fed it to Carter in front for his eighth goal.
Carter then chipped the puck ahead to Toffoli shortly after a Chicago power play ended. Toffoli broke in on Crawford, who lifted his left pad for only an instant — right when Toffoli pushed the puck under him.
The Kings kept up the pressure in the third period, and Doughty scored just his second goal of the postseason shortly after a power play expired in the third period.
NOTES: F Andrew Shaw returned to Chicago’s lineup after a seven-game injury absence. He took the lineup spot of Peter Regin, who had played the last four games. … Each player on the Carter-Toffoli-Pearson line is averaging at least one point per game over the past four games. … Guitarist Slash played the national anthem. Wayne Gretzky, Dick Butkus, David Beckham, Eric Stonestreet, Josh Duhamel, Taylor Kitsch and former Kings forward Dustin Penner attended the game.
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