The Blackhawks' 3-2 victory over Los Angeles at the Staples Center last night wasn't as close as the score would indicate.
The Warriors of the Four Feathers were all over the Kings during the last two periods, dominating play so completely that I find it difficult to imagine the series lasting past Saturday night's nationally televised (NBC, 7PM Central) Game Five from the United Center in Chicago. Only the Kings' superb goalie, Jonathan Quick, prevented the game from turning into a rout.
Deprived of star defenseman Brian Keith due to a well-deserved one-game suspension for high sticking Jeff Carter in Game Three, the Hawks barely batted an eye. Birthday boy Niklas Hjalmarsson teamed up with Brent Seabrook, and Johnny Oduya and Michal Rozsival teamed up as Chicago's second blue line unit. The result was so stifling that the Kings managed only two shots on goal during the final nineteen minutes, including none during a third period Kings power play and after Los Angeles had pulled goalie Quick during the final minutes of the game. Hjarmarsson also had three assists, and Oduya one.
This was only the second time that Quick had allowed more than two goals during this year's playoffs. The first time was Game Two of the series with the Hawks.
It was also the Kings' first defeat of the playoffs at home, and their first home defeat of any kind in the last fifteen games.
Folks, it's looking more and more like Boston vs. Chicago in the Finals. The Original Six rule!