The Kings returned home after a tough two games in Chicago where they had a hard time generating any sustained pressure. They were again without 2nd line centerman and post-season points leader Mike Richards. Things didn't look good.
Darryl Sutter decided to shuffle his line-up for game three in an effort to generate more offense and gain some more favorable matchups. The plan worked as L.A. was able to win the possession battle and earn a deserved win. As Justin Williams put it after the game:
“I think for the most part the result on the scoreboard is usually the result of how the team played. If you didn’t play great, you’re not usually going to win. I thought we just played better than them tonight. They played better than us the first two games...It was a broken-bat single that went in from Voynov there. Hey, we had a lot of zone time against them. That was one that paid off.”
For a recap of the game including highlights and more: click here.
- 1st line (King-Kopitar-Lewis), Grade: B. In order to shake things up, it looked as though Sutter had bumped Kopitar down to the third line before the game. Perhaps due to some undisclosed injury, he finally decided to cut down on some of his ice time and maybe give the 3rd line some more punch. Wrong. What actually happened was that Sutter, in fact, bumped Lewis and King up to the "1st line". Kopitar, King and Lewis lead all L.A. forwards in even strength ice time. They also spent 82% of their minutes against the top 6 (mainly against the 2nd line). How did they fare? Well, Kopitar had his best game since game 5 of the Sharks series. When the Sharp-Handzus-Kane line was on ice against Kopitar, they were only able to register 1 shot on goal against him. That being said, the Kings top unit had a tough time getting much going offensively as they only registered one scoring chance (a goal) and only 3 shots on goal. Their primarily role, though, seemed to be defense and in that role they performed as well as could be expected. If they can add more offense going forward, they'll greatly improve the Kings chances in the series.
- 2nd Line (Brown-Stoll-Williams), Grade: A. The Kings' 2nd line was primarily matched against the Toews line. In terms of zone time, they struggled to stay above water in that match-up as Toews continues to be a handful to defend. Still, they were able to limit scoring chances and were a force offensively. Individually, they combined to register 5 scoring chances and a goal. Justin Williams had 4 and was the Kings best player on the ice. They struggled at times getting the puck out of the defensive zone cleanly and also with gaining the offensive zone with puck control. But when they did do those things, they were able to make the most of those opportunities.
- 3rd Line (Penner-Carter-Toffoli), Grade: A. This is where Sutter's revamped line combinations had the most positive effects. The 1st and 2nd lines were locked up against Chicago's top 6, thus freeing this offensively minded unit to log lots of time against Chicago's bottom 6. This resulted in this line registering copious quality opportunities. They were also on ice for Slava Voynov's game winning goal. Lost amid the talk of Voynov's broken stick tally, was Tyler Toffoli's strong drive to the net while stickhandling and perfectly placing a no-look pass through the slot right to a hard-pinching Slava Voynov. For their part, even though they saw a lot of time against Chicago's bottom 6, they also spent 60% of their time against Chicago's top pair. Spreading depth around among the line combinations was a much needed move and it made the Kings' bottom 6 far more dangerous.
- 4th Line (Clifford-Fraser-Richardson), Grade: C. Colin Fraser only played for five and a half minutes and saw almost no time in the 3rd. Sutter mainly rolled three lines the entire game. In the time they did see, they played low event hockey where next to nothing happened.
- Regehr-Doughty, Grade: D. The Kings top pair had a tough time in their matchup against Jonathan Toews. They allowed the Blackhawks first line ample zone time and also allowed 3/4 of the Blackhawks scoring chances.
- Scuderi-Voynov, Grade A. Another strong game for the Kings second pair. They were matched against the Blackhawks second line and effectively shut them down. Remarkably, in the 3rd period when the Blackhawks were pushing hard and trying to even the score, they were unable to record a single shot attempt against this pairing. Voynov was extrememly active in this game as he attempted a whopping 11 shots at the net.
- Muzzin-Greene, Grade A. The 3rd pair saw mainly bottom 6 minutes and did a stellar job at rendering them a non-factor. Matt Greene had a strong bounce back effort showing that his health concerns are behind him. He was very strong in his own zone and doled out a few strong hits which resulted in changes of possession. Offensively, Muzzin did a good job pinching in and contributing offensively as he registered 4 attempts and a scoring chance. Defensively, they combined to hold the Blackhawks without a single scoring chance.
- Power Play, C. Thanks in large part to Duncan Keith's slash, the Kings were on the power play for 9:51. In that time they managed 0 goals, 6 shots and 3 scoring chances. The Blackhawks penalty kill prevented L.A. from running away with this one and kept the game close enough to give them a chance to steal it.
- Penalty Kill, A. Shorthanded for 3:51. Only one chance allowed and 3 shots. Greene and Scuderi were leaders in SH time with 2:27. Lewis lead forwards with 1:52. Interestingly, Anze Kopitar didn't see any PK time.
- Grade: B+. Quick got the quality start as he stopped 19-20. He had a relatively easy night, as he only needed to make 4 saves on scoring chances. He allowed one of those through. That said, he was stellar in the closing minutes of the 3rd and was a big reason why the Kings were able to shut the door.
Overall Team Grade: A.
- One of L.A.'s best efforts of the playoffs. They controlled the action in the first two periods and didn't really sit back in the 3rd as they played the Blackhawks very evenly in the final frame. Darryl Sutter's new look line combinations were a smashing success, but does that mean they will finally be able to string together these kind of performances consistently?
If you're unfamiliar with shot attempts and scoring chances, check out these links to see why they are important: Corsi -Scoring Chances.
Even Strength - On-Ice Player Stats
|NAME||ATTEMPTS FOR||ATTEMPTS AGAINST||ATTEMPT +/-||CHANCES FOR||CHANCES AGAINST||CHANCE +/-|
Even Strength - Team Stats
|PERIOD||ATTEMPTS FOR||ATTEMPTS AGAINST||ATTEMPT +/-||CHANCES FOR||CHANCES AGAINST||SCORING CHANCE +/-|
|Total||40||35||+5||9 (12)*||4 (5)||+5 (+7)|
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