LOS ANGELES — With flashy goals and steady defence, the Chicago Blackhawks ended the Los Angeles Kings’ 15-game home winning streak.
They are one win away from finishing off the defending champions entirely.
Marian Hossa scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period, and the Blackhawks moved to the brink of the Stanley Cup finals with a 3-2 victory Thursday night in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.
Patrick Kane tapped home the tying goal as Chicago rallied from a second-period deficit to beat the Kings, who hadn’t lost at home since March 23. Bryan Bickell had a goal and an assist for the top-seeded Blackhawks, who took a 3-1 series lead.
“They were playing so well at home, and to finally break that streak, we’re happy about it,” Hossa said. “We knew about it. We talked about it before the game. We were hoping to break it, and we got it.”
Slava Voynov and Dustin Penner scored for the Kings, who had won their first eight playoff games at Staples Center. The champs are in trouble after Jonathan Quick failed to match Corey Crawford, who made 19 saves.
Game 5 is Saturday night in Chicago.
The Blackhawks won without top defenceman Duncan Keith, who served a one-game suspension for high-sticking Jeff Carter in the face during the second period of Game 3.
Keith easily is the Hawks’ ice-time leader and top-scoring defenceman, but Sheldon Brookbank filled in while Chicago played strong team defence in front of Crawford, who has matched the Conn Smythe Trophy winner in the other net.
“We knew our defence was going to step up, and they did,” Bickell said. “We had a good feeling coming in. We had a bitter taste from the last game. They had a big start, but we stuck with it and eventually got it back.”
Los Angeles hadn’t lost a playoff game at home since Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals last season, winning nine straight overall, but the Blackhawks figured out how to end the NHL’s longest home post-season winning run since 2009.
The Kings had been outstanding when playing with a lead in front of Quick, who stopped 25 shots, but Los Angeles uncharacteristically surrendered a 2-1 lead late in the second period.
The high-scoring Kane ending his seven-game goal drought in a quiet post-season by charging into the crease to tap home the tying goal on a rebound of Niklas Hjalmarsson’s shot and Bickell’s deflection late in the second period. Hjalmarsson finished with two assists.
After Los Angeles killed a penalty to open the third period, Michal Handzus caught the Kings napping and set up a break with the speedy Hossa, who ripped a precise shot for his seventh goal of the post-season.
“We had a semi 2-on-1, and (Handzus) made an excellent play to me, and we got the goal,” Hossa said.
The Kings played their third straight game without centre Mike Richards, who has an apparent concussion after a big hit from Chicago’s Dave Bolland in the series opener. Richards was the Kings’ leading post-season scorer with 10 points when he got hurt.
Los Angeles’ unbeaten stretch at home ended in unusual fashion with the blown lead, and the low-scoring Kings’ title defence could be over in two days. The NHL hasn’t had a repeat champion since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998, and Los Angeles has managed just eight goals in four games against the powerful Blackhawks.
“They didn’t have many great scoring chances,” Crawford said. “We mostly kept them to the outside. It was great for us to shut them down.”
Chicago needs just one win in the next three games to advance to its second Stanley Cup finals appearance since 1992. The Blackhawks have been mostly rolling since their 5-2 victory in the season opener at Los Angeles in January, ruining the Kings’ banner-raising ceremony.