There were three questions for Blackhawks fans heading into Saturday night’s game.
1. Would Patrick Kane break a record?
2. Would the Blackhawks win in LA?
3. Would fans stay awake long enough to see either?
Thankfully for Hawks fans, Kane answered the first question a little more than 11 minutes into the game when he scored a power play goal to set a new benchmark for US-born NHL players.
When Niklas Hjalmarsson scored at 12:56 into the second period, some fans may have slowed their coffee consumption.
While we can’t speak for how many fans were awake when the final horn sounded, a strong performance from Scott Darling held up under pressure from the Kings and the Hawks continued what has been an improving road trip. Darling played especially well as the Kings carried the action in the first half of the second period.
Fortunately for Darling, every time Kings “fans” wanted to rattle the Hawks’ netminder, chants of “Craaaawford” popped up. Even through the third period, by which time even drunk fans should have known Corey Crawford was watching from the bench after beating the Ducks on Friday night.
But this was in LA. We move on.
The third period saw the Hawks begin to slow. Jeff Carter scored 52 seconds into the third, and an uncharacteristically awful turnover by Brent Seabrook ended up in the back of the net off the stick of Marian Gaborik.
Jonathan Toews had a breakaway chance to win the game with four seconds left in regulation but his shot went wide, so the Hawks played into overtime for the fourth time on the trip.
Unfortunately, at the end of some of the best up-and-down action of the night, Gaborik got behind the Hawks’ defense and beat Darling for the game-winner.
Darling deserved a better fate on Saturday night. He stopped 33 of 36 but suffered the loss. Jonathan Quick made 20 saves in the win.
Andrew Desjardins took the only penalty of the night for the Hawks and found himself stapled to the bench… at the Staples Center. Even worthless Brandon Mashinter had three minutes of ice time more than Desjardins, who may be in danger of being a healthy scratch again in the future.
Marko Dano was a healthy scratch in favor of Tanner Kero on Saturday night, and Kero resumed his position as a primary penalty killer for the Hawks.
The Hawks finished their annual circus trip 3-1-2, picking up eight of 12 possible points.
Kane and Duncan Keith had two points each on Saturday night, and were the most productive Hawks on the road trip. Kane’s point streak will win most of the headlines on Sunday, but Keith has been spectacular as well; since returning from knee surgery, Keith has four goals and four assists in eight games. For his part, Kane had one goal and eight assists during the six-game trip.
Seabrook also had a great trip, contributing six assists in the six games. Unfortunately, his turnover late in the third proved costly in LA.
Chicago’s power play played a big role in the trip as well. The Hawks scored a power play goal in five of the six games. With the exception of the Vancouver debacle, the penalty kill was strong as well; the Hawks allowed three power play goals on four advantages against the Canucks, but killed 13 of 14 (92.9%) in the other five games.
The Hawks return home to begin December with the Minnesota Wild at the United Center on Tuesday night.