Blackhawks Down: Chicago drops second straight to visiting Los Angeles Kings

 

Dustin Brown scored his twelfth goal of the season with under two minutes remaining to hand the Chicago Blackhawks (24-4-3) their fourth regulation loss of the season in a wild affair that saw the Blackhawks surrender three one-goal leads.

The victory put Los Angeles (18-12-2) ahead of the idle St. Louis Blues for sixth place in the crowded Western Conference race, and moved them within striking distance of division-leading Anaheim. The Kings currently sit ten points back of a suddenly struggling Ducks team with sixteen to play. With two of those remaining games coming against Anaheim, it’s not inconceivable to think that last year’s Stanley Cup Champions might close the gap, especially when one considers this same squad went 9-4-3 in their final 16 last year.

For the Blackhawks, it was their second regulation loss in as many games, as the four day layoff following their 4-2 loss to Anaheim failed to yield positive results. With the loss the Blackhawks have fallen to 3-4-0 in their last seven, and 7-4-0 in the month of March.

Michael Frolik got things started just under six minutes into the first period, as an offensive zone faceoff win by captain Jonathan Toews set up some tic-tac-toe passing that allowed Frolik to slide one past Kings netminder Jonathan Quick from the high slot.

While the rest of the first period remained scoreless, the second period would be raucous from start to finish. With Chicago’s Brandon Bollig and LA’s Jordan Nolan serving fighting majors in the box, Kings darling Anze Kopitar took a turnover from Michael Frolik at the Los Angeles blue line the length of the ice and skated his way through four Chicago defenders to roof a beauty past Hawks goaltender Corey Crawford’s glove, tying the game at one a piece.

Three minutes later, it was Kings penalty killer Jarret Stoll who led a short-handed two-on-one down the ice and beat Crawford high glove to give LA its first lead of the game. However, this lead would be short-lived.

With five-and-a-half to play in the second, Frolik and Toews worked a puck back to the point for a rocket by Duncan Keith that found its way past Jonathan Quick after a Frolik tip in the high slot to tie the game once more, this time at 2-2.

As time began to wind down in the second frame, Brent Seabrook fired a long distance pass from his own zone to the offensive blue line that ricocheted off Hawks forward Jimmy Hayes and careened right to an inexplicably unguarded Patrick Kane, who then stick-handled his way around Quick and slid in his seventeenth goal of the season.

For a moment it seemed as though Chicago would take their 3-2 lead and a frenzied home crowd into the second intermission, but, alas, the hockey gods can be cruel mistresses, indeed. Los Angeles entered the Hawks zone with less than seven seconds remaining by virtue of defenseman Drew Doughty bowling his way through three Hawks defenders and somehow managing to release a shot on goal. Crawford was up to the task initially, but a scramble for the rebound saw aptly named LA forward Dwight King deposit the tying goal with half a second remaining on the clock.

Chicago would be quick to regain their momentum in the third, as oh-captain-my-captain Jonathan Toews won yet another offensive zone draw and positioned himself stalwartly in front of the net. Blackhawks all-world defenseman Duncan Keith found Frolik in the high slot for wrist shot, and it would be Toews who backhanded home the rebound to restore a 4-3 Chicago lead on his sixteenth tally of the year.

A lazy wrister through traffic by young Kings center Tyler Toffoli managed to elude Crawford just over four minutes later, however, to the tie the game for the fourth time. American captain Dustin Brown’s rebound put-back with 1:27 left in regulation would prove to be the dagger in the contest, as Chicago was unable to find the equalizer with their goalie pulled during a frantic final minute.

***

GAME RECAP

Final Score: Kings 5, Blackhawks 4

Chicago Goals: Frolik (2), Kane, Toews

Los Angeles Goals: Kopitar, Stoll, King, Toffoli, Brown

Three Stars:

3) Dustin Brown (LAK)

2) Duncan Keith (CHI)

1) Michael Frolik (CHI)

Winning Goalie: Jonathan Quick 4 GA / 0.840 SV%

Losing Goalie: Corey Crawford 5 GA / 0.861 SV%

Next Game: Tuesday, 3/26 vs Calgary Flames, United Center, Chicago, Illinois

 

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