The Blackhawks ventured into Los Angeles on Saturday to face a Kings team that had lost ten straight games.
Just as they did in Anaheim, the Hawks did a great job of making a bad team look good.
Carl Dahlstrom and Drake Cagguila were scratched for Chicago. Dahlstrom because the Blackhawks keep skating Gustav Forsling for some reason; Cagguila is dealing with concussion symptoms still.
To say the first period was a debacle is an understatement. The Hawks took two terrible penalties and allowed goals on both power plays, allowing the Kings to take a 2-0 lead in the game’s opening five minutes.
When Dustin Brown gets a breakaway you’re doing it wrong.
Ilya Kovalchuk extended the Kings’ lead to three at 15 minutes into the first and one would imagine the number of eyeballs watching the game in Chicago dropped dramatically.
But the Hawks hung around. Brendan Perlini scored the ever-important next goal, pulling the Hawks to within two as the first period came to a painful close.
The Hawks actually out-shot the Kings 15-11 in the first period, but forgot to play defense for 15 minutes to start the contest.
The Kings returned the favor by leaving their defensive effort in the dressing room for the second period. Two minutes into the second the Kings went for a terribly timed change and Corey Crawford set up Perlini for a breakaway.
With the assist, Crawford catches John Hayden on the Blackhawks’ leaderboard with four points this year.
Almost five minutes later Connor Murphy tied the game for Chicago.
With an assist on the Murphy goal, Hayden pulled back in front of Crawford on the team scoring sheet.
The game would stay tied for only 71 seconds before Adrian Kempe scored for LA. Late in the third period Tyler Toffoli boarded Murphy. Chicago did nothing with the power play, but as the final seconds of the period ticked off the clock Murphy was ready to fight the entire Kings’ roster. Marcus Kruger wisely stepped in and kept Murphy from starting the third in the box.
After 40 minutes, the Kings held a 4-3 lead. The two teams combined to put 13 shots on net in the second period, seven coming from the Blackhawks. Patrick Kane did not have a point through two full periods.
Brendan Leipsic scored 4:54 into the third period to give the Kings a two-goal lead. LA happily allowed the Blackhawks to spend the following 15 minutes skating up and down the ice, getting one shot on most trips before the Kings were able to clear. As was the case in Anaheim, the Blackhawks showed a stunning lack of urgency against a team they need to beat if they’re supposedly trying to get into the playoffs.
The Blackhawks opened the final four minutes of regulation with a dump in that nobody chased. The Kings cleared the puck and 60 seconds came off the clock without a shot from a Chicago skater. Reminder: the Blackhawks were down two goals at this point.
Even the crowd in LA sounds half asleep. Another 90 seconds came off the clock as the teams took turns clearing the puck to center ice. The emotion from the Blackhawks and Kings felt like a September preseason game more than one team supposedly chasing a playoff spot.
Chicago couldn’t sustain control of the puck long enough to get the goaltender off the ice. With 1:53 left in regulation Brown sniped home his second goal of the game. Crawford never saw the puck as Toffoli and Duncan Keith battled in front of him.
And a team that had lost their previous ten games beat the Blackahwks 6-3.