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Kings 3, Hawks 1

The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Kings are back at home.

And everything is right again for the defending Stanley Cup champions -- for now, anyway.

Down two games to none to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference finals and facing the possibly of falling into a deep hole, the Kings responded with a 3-1 win on Tuesday night at Staples Center.

And in the process, they climbed back into the series.

Game 4 is Thursday night and the Kings will be looking to even the series.

Justin Williams started the scoring for the Kings with a first-period goal past Chicago goalie Corey Crawford 3:21 into the game.

After the Kings essentially were knocked out in the first period in Game 2 on Sunday when they surrendered two goals to rattle Jonathan Quick -- who was eventually chased from the game in the second period after giving up two more -- the quick start was essential.

So too was a better defensive effort, which the Kings provided by killing off two power plays and keeping Quick clean by allowing just six shots on goal.

The Kings pushed the lead to 2-0 when Slava Voynov snuck a shot through two sets of legs and the stick of Crawford seven minutes into the second period.

But a late goal by Chicago's Bryan Bickell, who beat Quick with 36 seconds left in the period, made it 2-1 and completely changed the complexion of the game.

It was a devastating goal surrendered by the Kings, who had allowed just two shots through the rest of the period and seemed in total control.

But a perfectly defended third period, and Dwight King's empty-net goal with 27.3 seconds remaining, gave the Kings a 3-1 lead -- and new life.

NOTES: Los Angeles C Mike Richards missed his second consecutive game. Richards is suffering from an upper-body injury, according to the Kings, although it's suspected he suffered a concussion in Game 1. Richards, the Kings' leading scorer in the playoffs, is still a question mark for Game 4. "He's done a little bit every day. It's the same. No progress," coach Darryl Sutter said. "If it was just about Mike Richards, if Mike Richards makes the decision, Mike Richards is playing tonight. You've got guys who don't want to play, and you've got guys who do want to play. Mike Richards wants to play." ... With the early start (6 p.m. PDT) for Game 3, the Blackhawks skipped their typical morning skate. Coupled with a travel day on Monday, they'd essentially gone 48 hours without ice time. Considering the grueling regular season they went through and playing on back-to-back days to open the Western Conference finals, the players welcomed the break. "Personally I kind of like it," Chicago D Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "It's nice. It's been a lot of hockey here. Back-to-back and travel days. Just try to be mentally ready when the puck drops, that's what it's all about at this point."
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