Blood! Sweat! Tom Cruise! Game 3 of the Western Conference finals had all the makings of a blockbuster (not counting Jim Belushi), and the L.A. Kings walked away 3-1 victors over the Blackhawks on Tuesday at the Staples Center. Justin Williams and Slava Voynov found the back of the net as L.A. moved within 2-1 in the Western Conference finals. As the drama unfolded, we tracked the heroes and the villains of the series' first game in the entertainment capital of the world.
The hero: Patrick Sharp
The Hawks' Mr. Handsome has a bad-boy side! The winger was sent to the penalty box twice in the first period, including a coincidental minor when he—gasp!—dropped the gloves with Justin Williams. The good news: Neither player had a chance to throw a punch before the refs stepped in, so that gorgeous mug remained intact.
The villain: Justin Williams
The pesky Canadian gave the Kings the lead less than four minutes into the game after Nick Leddy was stripped of the puck deep in the Hawks' zone. Williams nearly tallied a second goal two minutes later after Michal Rozsival tripped and lost the puck, but Corey Crawford made a nifty save. Also, NOBODY TRIES TO FIGHT SHARP!
The score: Kings 1, Hawks 0
The hero: Bryan Bickell
What timing! Just as the period was ready to expire with the Hawks down by two, the toothless wonder sent the puck through Kings goalie Jonathan Quick's legs on a wrap-around shot. (Honarable mention goes to Duncan Keith. A real man knows when he's wrong, and Duncs was right to apologize to Jeff Carter after slashing him in the face.)
The villain: Slava Voynov
The defenseman gave the Kings a 2-0 lead—and broke his stick in the process. The strange shot seemed to cross up Crawford, who saw the puck slide past on the near side. And as if that wasn't bad enough for the Hawks, the two-goal lead also whipped the Staples Center crowd in to a frothy roar. Gross.
The score: Kings 2, Hawks 1
The hero: Corey Crawford
You don't have to be fancy to be a leading man. Crawford was every bit Quick's equal in the net, making some clutch saves to keep the Hawks within striking distance. And like any good hero, he'll be back for Game 4 on Thursday ready to go.
The villain: Dwight King
After pulling the goalie with 1:35 left, the Hawks kept the pressure on for a minute or so, but King delivered the dagger with an empty-netter. Cue the streamers at the Staples Center ... which will never hold a candle to the United Center. Not that we're bitter.
Final score: Kings 3, Hawks 1
Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun