EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Although Chicago and Los Angeles have won the last two Stanley Cup titles, Matt Greene and his fellow Kings realize the Blackhawks have been superior whenever the two championship teams were on the ice together recently.
Chicago’s recent mastery of the Kings completely came apart in one crazy period, and the Blackhawks are headed to the West Coast to figure out how to get it back.
When the teams return Saturday night for Game 3 of the Western Conference finals, the Kings hope to build on their five-goal third period in a 6-2 victory on Wednesday night, evening the series in dramatic fashion.
Until Game 2, Chicago had beaten the Kings six straight times and in nine of the clubs’ last 10 meetings dating back to last season’s conference finals. The Blackhawks had been faster and more offensively creative than the Kings, but it all went away in a barrage of goals that set a distinctly different tone for Game 3.
“It’s been a series that’s gone in their favor for the last couple of years now,” Greene said Thursday at the Kings’ training complex. “We’ve got to do our best to change that. If we could put a finger on it, we would. But it’s up to us to figure it out and to keep it going and get some more wins. … I don’t think they have a mental edge on us, no. You’ve just got to go out and play.”
Both teams essentially took Thursday off, gathering only for travel or a team meeting. While the Kings downplayed the importance of momentum from their win, the Blackhawks had an extra day to absorb the shock of their second four-goal defeat in the last six playoff games.
“I woke up this morning way more angry than I exited the game,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Thursday before the team flew to the West Coast. “Normally it’s the other way around. … A game like that is a game that should get your attention, and I think that’s where we’re at.”
Quenneville felt the loss was a significant setback for the Blackhawks only because of how it occurred. The two-time champion coach couldn’t recall such an abrupt reversal of momentum against Chicago in any game this season.
Quenneville thought his team essentially played a perfect game for the first 38 minutes, taking a 2-0 lead before it all fell apart with Los Angeles’ first goal. The Blackhawks aren’t a team that falls apart, but the Kings have a way of making opponents do things they never imagined under playoff pressure.
“I think it was probably a little bit of a shock to us all,” Chicago defenseman Nick Leddy said. “But that’s how playoffs are.”