Coming off a stunningly dominant win against Washington on Saturday – and the Monday afternoon trade of Michal Kempny to those same Capitals – there was some hope the Blackhawks could at least show some competitive hockey down the stretch.
Then they came out and got their doors blown off in the opening 40 minutes against the Kings.
In the first period, Chicago was out-shot 15-4. The Kings scored twice, first from Torrey Mitchell and the second from Andy Andreoff. Jonathan Quick wasn’t tested and the Hawks didn’t look interested in competing.
In the second period, Dion Phaneuf scored a power play goal while Lance Bouma watched from the box to extend the LA lead to three. When the dust settled from the second 20 minutes, Chicago had been out-shot 14-11 and were chasing three.
There was nothing about the Blackhawks’ game that resembled the team that competed on Saturday.
Chicago showed some push early in the third, though. Rookie defenseman Carl Dahlstrom, who has been impressive since he was recalled from Rockford, took a chance and attackede up the ice. His shot was on the mark and the loose rebound found Patrick Sharp… and Sharp actually finished.
The goal was Sharp’s first since Jan. 9 and only his seventh of the season. It was Dahlstrom’s second assist in the NHL.
Los Angeles was clearly on cruise control in the third period, getting out-shot and out-hustled by the Hawks but not appearing to be worried Chicago would score. And they didn’t after the Sharp goal. At 15 minutes into the third, the Hawks held am 8-1 shot advantage in the period but hadn’t found a second – or third – goal.
Coach Joel Quenneville pulled Anton Forsberg for the extra attacked with 2:53 left in regulation.
Chicago didn’t do anything but shoot the puck wide or pass in a circle with six skaters on the ice. And the game quietly ended with the Hawks back on the losing track.
It is worth noting, however, that Blackhawks fans who are ready to throw out the core need look only at the Kings’ captain for a prime example of a veteran bouncing back after an awful season. Anze Kopitar was “the reason” the Kings struggled last season as he endured a terrible personal season, but he’s come back with a strong 2017-18 season.