Chicago stormed out to a 2-0 series lead in the Western Conference finals over the defending Stanley Cup champions from Los Angeles, holding serve at home. Now, the Kings, after showing a little life at the end of Game 2, need to do the same as they return to the Staples Center for Game 3 on Tuesday night. Here’s a look at the NHL betting matchup along with a prediction:
Chicago Blackhawks @ Los Angeles Kings
Odds: Kings -130
The Blackhawks chased Jonathan Quick by jumping out to a 4-0 lead and held on for a 4-2 victory in Game 2, as Andrew Shaw, Brent Seabrook, Michael Handzus and Bryan Bickell scored within the first two periods. Corey Crawford made 29 saves for the Blackhawks, however, it has to be a bit worrying that they took their foot off the gas and allowed the Kings to gain some momentum. They took three penalties (two by Michal Rozsival) in the final nine minutes of the game and Los Angeles scored on one; the ‘Hawks still won, but they definitely gave the Kings a lift.
Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli responded for the Kings, who will go back to their #1 goalie and last year’s Conn Smythe winner in Quick, who was pulled after allowing four goals on 17 shots. The Kings’ defense didn’t do their goalie any favors, but Quick knows he has to be better and usually when he struggles, he comes back with a bang. There are many in the hockey world that think Quick is the best goalie in the world right now and Game 3 will give him a chance to prove it. However, his teammates have to improve in front of him as Chicago has too much skill to be given as many odd-man rushes as they were in Game 2.
The Kings come into Game 3 as the favorites and for good reason: they have won 14 in a row at the Staples Center and 18 of their last 20 games at home overall. Their last loss on home ice came on March 23rd when they lost 1-0 to Vancouver, but they’ve been brilliant there since then and they need to call on all of their resources to avoid going down 0-3 to a Chicago team that knows how to put their adversaries away. But the Blackhawks aren’t going to be afraid to go into Los Angeles, where they have won five of their last six trips, including a 5-2 blasting of the Kings on January 19th. The Blackhawks have won two of five on the road in the postseason, and Game 3 in Los Angeles may be their biggest test of the season to date.
If Los Angeles is going to get back into this series, they need a complete team effort – not just Quick. Chicago is too good for one man to beat them. Hockey betting fans know that the Kings have to play like a team with their back against the wall because, quite frankly, they are; teams have come back from 0-3 down in the NHL playoffs just three times in 172 instances.
Pick: Kings -130