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Cullen: Carter comes up big for Kings in Game Two

Scott Cullen
5/22/2014 1:17:35 AM
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The Los Angeles Kings stormed back after falling behind 2-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks, scoring six straight goals to take Game Two, tying the series at one game apiece.

Jeff Carter was the scoring force for the Kings, with a hat trick and an assist, all in the third period. Carter now has 16 points in 16 playoff games and, over the past three years, has 42 playoff points, ranking second only to Anze Kopitar.

Carter is having success centering a line with rookies Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli on his wings. Pearson had a couple of assists in Game Two and Toffoli scored the Kings' fourth goal. Pearson and Toffoli each have nine points in the postseason, one behind Nathan MacKinnon and Torey Krug for the rookie lead in the playoffs. Pearson has been particularly efficient in terms of points per minute of ice time.

Chicago appeared to have the game well in hand, holding a 2-0 lead with a couple minutes left in the second period, but Justin Williams scored a goal off a seemingly inoccuous play to get the Kings on the board with 1:40 remaining in the second, then Los Angeles scored a pair of power play goals in the first 4:04 of the third period to turn the game upside down.

Kings D Alec Martinez had an assist, but was also on the ice for 18 shot attempts for and seven against (72.0%) during 5-on-5 play. With Martinez off the ice, the Kings got 39.1% of the 5-on-5 shot attempts. At the same time, the Kings' top defence pairing of Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin were both on for less than 30% of the shot attempts at 5-on-5.

Chicago's possession leader was LW Brandon Saad (13 attempts for, four against, 76.5%), while RW Kris Versteeg and C Peter Regin were at the other end of the spectrum, both under 25% in possession terms.

Kings G Jonathan Quick stopped 23 of 25 shots, making some crucial saves when the game was 2-0 for Chicago and a third goal might put the game out of reach. Blackhawks G Corey Crawford allowed five goals in a game for the first time since November 16.

It's not a surprise that the Kings' power play made a difference -- their 24.1% success rate in the playoffs is best among the final four teams -- but the surprise is seeing the Blackhawks' penalty killing unit get lit up for a pair of goals. Prior to Game Two, Chicago's penalty kill had allowed four goals on 48 power plays, 91.7%, so to suddenly allow two within 2:27 in the third period was highly unusual -- Chicago had allowed two power play goals against once in the previous 61 (regular season plus playoff) games.

While the manner in which it happened could be considered surprising, it should be expected that the Kings will give the Blackhawks all they can handle. These are two elite teams and neither figures to go quietly, but now the advantage goes to the Kings who, with the split in Chicago, have gained home-ice advantage.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.




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