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NHL: Hossa nets winner as Blackhawks down Kings

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Marian Hossa scored early in the third period Thursday to lift the Chicago Blackhawks to a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings, pushing the reigning NHL champions to the brink of playoff elimination.

Chicago became the first team in this post-season to beat the Kings on their home ice, and in doing so took a 3-1 stranglehold on the best-of-seven Western Conference championship series.

The winner of the series will face either Boston or Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup finals.

The Kings took the lead twice only to see Chicago equalize.

Hossa scored the winner just 1:10 into the third period. The Kings went for a quick line change and Chicago capitalized. Johnny Oduya fired out of his end to Michal Handzus in the neutral zone. Handzus took the puck in down the left wing and fired it right, where Hossa fired past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.

After that, the Blackhawks limited the Kings to just two shots on net and killed off a power play, the 54th penalty kill in 56 opportunities in the playoffs.

"We played really well defensively after we scored the third goal there," said Niklas Hjalmarsson, who had two assists for Chicago.

"Just solid. We just chipped the pucks down and went to their end pretty quick ... we had a lot of confidence there at the end."

Bryan Bickell posted a goal and an assist while Patrick Kane also scored for the Blackhawks, who got 19 saves from Corey Crawford in the victory.

Dustin Penner and Slava Voynov scored for the Kings, who had won all eight home games in the playoffs coming into Thursday, including a 3-1 win in game three of this series on Tuesday.

Quick turned away 25 shots for the Kings, who will have to win three straight if they want to have a chance to defend their Stanley Cup crown.

The Blackhawks, vying to return to the NHL's championship series for the first time since they lifted the cup in 2010, host game five on Saturday.

"Well, we know it's not finished yet, we need to win one more and it's not going to be easy," Hossa said. "We want to make sure we're ready at home."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130607/nhl-hossa-nets-winner-blackhawks-down-kings