CHICAGO -- Dungeons and dragons?
For the Los Angeles Kings, at least captain Dustin Brown, the Chicago Blackhawks have been like a "mythical dragon." Chicago had won eight of its last nine games against the Kings and were within 20 minutes of taking another one.
Then came an inspirational group session after the second period. The Kings would go on to score five third-period goals including two on the power play and win Game 2 of the Western Conference finals on Wednesday night, 6-2. This equalized the best-of-seven game series at one game each.
Talk about fighting their way out of the United Center dungeon.
It's a most-intimidating, imposing and loud arena. In fact, the reigning Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks had been a flawless 7-0 at home in this postseason before the Kings rolled over them and goalie Corey Crawford in the third period. Chicago had not allowed more than four goals in a game during this postseason.
"I think this is a huge game for our approach, our psyche," Brown said. "Kind of like slaying the mythical dragon. We've been dominated by this team over the last couple of years. To come in here and get a win in their building with the type of home record they have gives us a boost in confidence."
Twelve Kings figured in the scoring -- Jeff Carter had a hat trick -- and quite likely the most important goal came from Justin Williams late in the second period. Williams usually displays his game-saving qualities for later in a series, but his goal, which went in off his skate off a nice centering pass from Mike Richards, cut the Blackhawks' lead to 2-1 at 18 minutes 14 seconds.
That gave the Kings more than a flicker of hope for the third. Kings coach Darryl Sutter apparently didn't have much to say during the intermission but his veteran players filled in the gaps.
"It was all us in here," Kings center Jarret Stoll said. "He doesn't really have to say much in situations like that. We came together pretty good and said all the right things. A lot of energy in this room after the second, knowing we could come out and have a great third.
"We knew at this stage of the series, it was the biggest period of the series. We needed to come out and win the game."
Said Brown: "It was unusual -- but there was a lot of chatter about positive energy, that was probably the best way to explain it. It was just about having a response and staying positive."
The response was the very definition of scoring balance. The veterans led the way early (Williams, Richards and Carter) and the kids (Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli) took over later with their speed and chemistry. Pearson had assists on the Kings' fourth and fifth goals; the first set up Toffoli and the second contributed to Carter's second goal.
"These guys know how to win and it just transfers throughout the lineup," Pearson said. "Especially to us young guys. Most of these guys were here when they won the Cup so they know what's at stake."
Still the explosive third period may not have unfolded had Kings goalie Jonathan Quick not made a terrific sliding glove save on Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook on a two-on-one attack with about 7:14 remaining in the second period when the Blackhawks led 2-0.
Afterward, Quick downplayed the save, saying he was "fortunate to get a piece of it." Seconds later, Carter did the same about his three goals: "I didn't really have to do too much for them."
There was the save and the hat trick, but the big picture was the most important thing on a night the Kings finally dented the home perfection of the Blackhawks.
"It's huge. They've had our number both regular season and postseason the last two years," Brown said. "You have to climb to the top, to get through that barrier. We found a way to get through that tonight."
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