In Jonathan Quick’s perfect world, it wouldn’t matter that the Los Angeles Kings were at Staples Center or on the road in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. No matter the location, they’d use their brand of gritty, physical hockey for victory; no matter where the puck is dropped, he would be the impenetrable netminder that earned Conn Smythe honors in last season’s Stanley Cup journey.
But it’s not a perfect world.
Twice, the Kings have gone down by two games in top open a series in the 2013 playoffs. They rallied to eliminate the St. Louis Blues in six games, winning all three home games. They took the first step towards doing the same thing to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final, winning Game 3 by a 3-1 margin in a tightly played contest.
“We’ve kinda been forced to win at home because we haven’t played well on the road,” said Quick, who was brilliant in making 19 saves.
“At the end of the day, it’s one game, and you move on.”
The Kings have now won 15 straight games at home, dating back to the regular season. True to form, they looked like a different team vs. the Blackhawks than the one that was humbled in Game 2, when Quick was pulled.
“We played our game,” said Quick. “We got the first goal, and typically we played well with leads. It was more out speed, our tempo, and we dictated the game more than we did in the first two games.”
The first goal arrived from a familiar face: Justin Williams, who scored his sixth in the playoffs at 3:21 of the first period:
Slava Voynov made it 2-0 with a broken-stick shot that fooled Corey Crawford (25 saves) at 6:37 of the second period:
Bryan Bickell scored his seventh for the Blackhawks on a wrap-around that beat Quick at 19:26 of the second. But Quick got his vengeance late in the third period with the Hawks pushing hard, making one of the best stops of the postseason on Bickell:
It was the kind of save Quick didn’t make in Chicago when the Kings needed it.
But this game was back home, where Quick and the Kings have been unbeatable.
Said Bickell, via Mayor's Manor: “We didn’t deserve whatever came out of those first two periods. They had the spark being at home. They have been a good home team this year in the playoffs. We just need to match it coming into the game but unfortunately we didn’t but we need to be ready for Game Four. We killed that four minute penalty that gave us a spark and got us fired up to get that late with 40 seconds in the second. We had the momentum going into the third. I thought we played good hockey but we just need to be better than that.”