The Hawks were playing a team on Sunday that had lost eight of it's last nine games and were the bottom team in the Western Conference heading into tonight's game, but the Los Angeles Kings would battle back from a 2-0 deficit in the 3rd to tie the game up, and eventually beat Chicago in OT, snapping the Blackhawks' four game winning streak.
The 1st period was fairly uneventful, as neither goalie was really tested, although the Blackhawks did do a good job of killing a couple of penalties early in the period to keep the game scoreless. The matchup would stay 0-0 into the first intermission.
The Hawks would grab the first goal of the game about two minutes in. On this play, Brent Seabrook hammered a shot from the point, and although Kings goalie Jason Labarbera made the initial stop, Jonathan Toews was there for the rebound and he put it into the net, making it 1-0 Blackhawks.
That would be all of the scoring for the 2nd period, and the 'Hawks entered the 3rd period in good shape, with a one goal lead and playing strong defensively.
The Blackhawks would pick up another early goal in the 3rd period, again just about two minutes into the final frame. On this play, Martin Lapointe made a nice move by stickhandling and sending a cross-ice pass to Jacob Dowell, who was in his first game back from injury, and Dowell put one home from the right circle, making it 2-0 Blackhawks but with still a lot of time remaining in the 3rd period.
Unfortunately, on the next shift right after the Dowell goal, the Kings would cut the deficit in half, when Dustin Brown would get the puck in the Hawks' zone and let a shot go from the left faceoff circle that would beat Nikolai Khabibulin, making it just a 2-1 lead for Chicago. The goal came exactly 33 seconds after the second Blackhawks tally.
Not even 5 minutes later, with the Kings on the power play, LA would tie this one up. After a shot from the point hit a little bit of traffic in front of the Hawks' net, former Blackhawk Kyle Calder was there to pick up the loose puck and was able to knock it home from close range, making it a 2-2 game all of a sudden and sending the momentum to the Kings' bench.
The rest of the 3rd would see a couple of decent chances that nearly went in for the Hawks, including Tuomo Ruutu hitting the post with about 10 minutes to go in the game, but ultimately it would stay tied at the end of regulation, sending the game to OT.
The Kings would wrap this one up about three and a half minutes into OT, courtesy of Dustin Brown again. After the Hawks had a scoring chance involving Danny Richmond in the LA zone, Brown would pick the puck up and head in on a 2-on-1 and would beat Khabibulin with a low shot, giving LA the victory.
It's disappointing for the Hawks to drop a game to an opponent that they really should have easily handled, but if this team had guys like Sopel, Wisniewski and Havlat in the lineup, they likely would have dominated the Kings. Unfortunately, guys like Zyuzin and Richmond are forced into the lineup and I don't feel these guys are NHL-caliber defensemen at this point. I'm thinking it's probably time for Tallon to make a deal for a legit defenseman, if it wasn't time already.
Give credit to LA, though. They battled all night and would not let the Hawks have anything easily, and they didn't quit when the Hawks went up 2-0 and had all the momentum. I think the turning point was the goal by Brown right after the Dowell tally. You can't just give a goal right back like that, and the Kings would built on that momentum to eventually get the win.
Once again, kudos to all the Hawks fans that attended this one, as the announced attendance was 21,715 tonight. The AP recap says that this is the biggest crowd at the United Center since December 27, 2001. It's also the second straight sell-out at the UC, and the third straight game with at least 20,000 fans. Nice to see the Blackhawks becoming a hot ticket in this town again.
SCH Hawks Player Of The Game: Jonathan Toews, who picked up a nice rebound goal in the 1st period.