By Jahmal Corner
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Los Angeles Kings unleashed an early onslaught to blow away the Chicago Blackhawks in a 5-2 win on Monday that moved them to within one victory of the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Kings stormed ahead with three first-period goals that whipped the home Staples Center crowd into a frenzy, and held on to grab a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference Finals series.
In a match-up between the past two Stanley Cup champions, the Kings have looked the sharper of the teams in the last three contests and can eliminate the Blackhawks with a Game Five victory when the series shifts back to Chicago on Wednesday.
A series victory would serve as sweet revenge for the Kings after they were defeated by the Blackhawks in five games at the same stage of the playoffs a year ago.
On Monday, Jake Muzzin, Marian Gaborik and Dustin Brown all scored in the first period, and Drew Doughty added another in the second to carry Los Angeles into a 4-0 lead.
Chicago fought back with a second-period goal from Brandon Saad and a Bryan Bickell effort in the third but that was all they could manage. Tanner Pearson scored an empty-net goal in the final minute to punctuate the victory for the Kings.
The winner of the series will face either the New York Rangers or Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Finals.
(Editing by John O'Brien)