The Los Angeles Kings will try to eliminate the defending Stanley Cup champions and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks for Game 5 at United Center.
The Kings have won three straight in the series to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven set. Another victory on Wednesday would get Los Angeles back in the Cup Finals for the second time in three years after claiming the franchise's first title in 2012 by beating the New Jersey Devils. A win also would avenge the Kings' loss to Chicago in last season's West finals, which the Blackhawks won in five games.
Chicago entered this postseason with a chance to become the first NHL team to win back-to-back Cups since Detroit pulled off the repeat in 1997 and '98, but that dream is looking bleak at the moment. The Blackhawks, who also won a Cup in 2010, need to win three straight to take the West Finals and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for the third time in five years.
The Blackhawks have come back from down 3-1 to win a series only once in their history, but it was last spring against Detroit, which won three of the first four games against Chicago in the Western Conference semifinals before losing the final three tilts. The Blackhawks also needed to win Game 7 in overtime to down the Red Wings.
"That was a special feeling last year when we came back from 3-1 and were able to win it in seven games in overtime," said Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane. "Who knows? That's probably what it's going to take to try and get back there."
If Chicago does stave off elimination on Wednesday, the clubs will meet Friday in Los Angeles for Game 6.
Kane ended a three-game stretch without a point with an assist in Game 4 at Los Angeles, but it wasn't nearly enough as the Kings claimed a 5-2 decision to keep Chicago from tying the series.
L.A. scored three times in the opening period and extended the cushion to 4-0 in the second stanza. Jake Muzzin, Marian Gaborik, and Dustin Brown scored in just under a seven-minute span in the opening frame and Drew Doughty added a goal in the second. Jonathan Quick stopped 22 shots for the Kings.
"We are trying to win one game, whether we are up 3-1, down 3-1, 2-2, no matter what the series is, that doesn't change what we are trying to do the next game," said Quick.
Anze Kopitar had two assists in the win, and leads all postseason skaters with 22 points on five goals and 17 assists.
Brandon Saad and Bryan Bickell scored for the Blackhawks, who saw Corey Crawford give up four goals on just 20 shots in the loss.
Chicago has lost three straight since winning Game 1 on home ice by a 3-1 score. The Blackhawks held a 2-0 lead late in the second period of Game 2 before allowing L.A. to score six unanswered goals.
"It's all about our game and our preparation, there's things we need to do better," said Chicago captain Jonathan Toews. "We make mistakes and things wind up getting compounded quickly. We just need to forget about this and find a way to play like we did in Game 1."
The Blackhawks were 7-0 on home ice in this postseason before dropping Game 2 to the Kings. Chicago is 18-3 at the United Center since the start of the 2013 playoffs. L.A. is 6-4 as the road team in the 2014 playoffs.
This series marks the first time two teams are meeting in the Western finals in back-to-back years since the Stars/Avalanche in 1999-2000.