LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Kings were on a line change.
The Chicago Blackhawks were focused on stealing a game at Staples Center and taking a commanding lead in the Western Conference finals.
The two objectives collided near the Kings' blue line on Thursday night and the Blackhawks swiftly took advantage, the wide-open ice beckoning them as they charged toward Kings goalie Jonathan Quick and then beat him when Marian Hossa blasted a goal that gave Chicago control of the series.
The Blackhawks beat the Kings 3-2 to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series. They can punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup finals on Saturday in Chicago, where they beat the Kings decisively in Games 1 and 2.
After handing the Kings their first playoff loss in night games this year -- and their first loss at Staples Center in 16 games -- the Blackhawks now have complete control.
"It's huge. That's what our goal coming here was -- trying to at least win one," Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "We knew it was going to be tough to win both here. They have been playing pretty well here in their building, so I think we did a decent job today. I think we could have played better too, but we got the job done and that's what matters."
Meanwhile, the Kings face a must-win situation Saturday in Game 5.
"It was a tough one to lose tonight, but we knew we were going to have to win at least one in their rink so we're looking forward to the next challenge," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "It's a big game Saturday night and it's a must-win obviously, so we have to have everyone rise to the occasion and be a good team."
Control came to the Blackhawks through resiliency and doggedness, as they twice flicked off one-goal deficits by mounting pressure on the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Hossa gave them the 3-2 lead -- their first of the game -- when the Kings botched a line change early in the third period.
"I think we had a lot more chances tonight (compared) to last game," Blackhawks winger Bryan Bickell said. "We just tried to stick to our game plan and grind them down, and I felt that we accomplished that tonight."
Before that, it was an uphill climb for the Blackhawks, who were battling Quick and a Kings team that had not lost at home in the playoffs in eight games.
Slava Voynov, a catalyst during the postseason for the Kings, shocked the Blackhawks three minutes into the first period when he launched a 40-foot slap shot past Corey Crawford to give the Kings a 1-0 lead.
Voynov has been a revelation this postseason, scoring six times.
But Chicago's Bryan Bickell tied it midway through the period when he knuckleballed the puck between the legs of Quick, the shot having just enough juice to make its way to the net for a 1-1 tie.
Kings left winger Dustin Penner made it 2-1 early in the second period when he alertly poked the puck past Crawford as it lay in front of the crease.
Then it was up to the Kings' defense, which killed off two more power plays, including a two-man advantage.
But late in the period, the Blackhawks went to work on Quick, forcing the issue with a flurry of shots that ultimately paid off when Patrick Kane beat Quick with 1:39 left to make it 2-2.
The period ended with the Blackhawks on the power play and momentum leaning their way, although they were even with the Kings on the scoreboard and the shot sheet, with both clubs taking 19 shots.
Then came the mishandled line change and the decisive goal.
"I think for one of them there was a little bit of a mix-up with a guy coming out of the box. I don't know if that threw us off a little bit but they're a good team in transition," Quick said. "We've got to take that away. That's one of the things we've been talking about for the last four games -- taking that away. It's something we've got to be better at."
Now the Blackhawks are one win away from advancing the Stanley Cup finals.
"To have that kind of momentum going home definitely feels good," Bickell said. "But we've got to keep going."
NOTES: As far as Kings center Jeff Carter is concerned, the high stick he took from Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith on Tuesday night in Game 3 that resulted in a gash below his lip and cost Keith a one-game suspension is a closed matter. "It's over with. It's done with," Carter said. "We've got a pretty big game to worry about. I'm not too worried about the incident." It's a different matter for the Blackhawks, who played Game 4 without their best defenseman. "Obviously, having (Keith) out of the lineup for tonight's game, it's a big loss for us," defenseman Michal Rozsival said. "But it is what it is. We all have to step up our game and be a little better." ... Injured Kings center Mike Richards didn't play for the third consecutive game after suffering a concussion on a hit from Chicago's Dave Bolland in Game 1. ... Left winger Dustin Penner, Carter and right winger Tyler Toffoli have formed a formidable second line. Toffoli, a rookie, has a goal and two assists in the series. "He's (21) years old and that's a lot of pressure," Sutter said. "He was good last game. He was good the game before that. Struggled in the San Jose series. ... I don't put any pressure on the player. That player, (I) just want him to be good shift to shift. If he doesn't, I'm not going to say, 'You're a bad boy' or something. I'm not going to play him, that's all."