The Chicago Blackhawks dominated the first 40 minutes of play against the Kings on Sunday but made things interesting in the final period. The Hawks built a 3-0 lead, on 32 shots, going into the 3rd period. The Kings took control of the action and cut the lead to one before time ran out on them. Ray Emery made some key stops down the stretch to help secure the Hawks' 12th win of the season.
The scoring starting with a Brent Seabrook goal, his 2nd, at 6:29. The Hawks had lulled all five Kings players to the right side of the ice and Seabrook was able to sneak below the left circle all alone. Duncan Keith made a great cross ice pass to find him and Seabs had a wide open net. Michael Frolik picked up his first point in eight games with the secondary assist on the goal.
Jonathan Toews padded the lead with a power play goal just over four minutes later at 10:32. Keith shot the puck at the net from the top of left circle and Toews tipped it towards the goal. The puck hit the post and was slowly moving along the goal line. Tazer was able to beat both Jonathan Quick and defenseman Rob Scuderi to the puck and push it across for his 7th goal of the season. Brent Seabrook picked up the secondary assist on the Blackhawks' 12th power play goal in 15 games.
The Hawks continued to force their will on the Kings in the 2nd period, a period in which the Hawks fired off 21 shots on goal. Patrick Sharp was finally able to light the lamp just 56 seconds into the period. The play started with Sharp getting the puck out from behind the net to Johnny Oduya. Oduya fired a shot towards the net that went wide but bounced right to Toews in front of the net. Jonathan Quick was able to poke check the puck away but Sharp pounced on the loose puck and went upstairs over a sprawled out Quick for his 3rd goal of the year.
The Kings started to get some pressure and momentum in the final few minutes of the 2nd period and carried it over into the final frame. Sharp was called for hooking at the 0:43 mark of the 3rd and the Kings took advantage of it right away. Just 13 seconds later Mike Richards scored on a slap shot from the point with Dustin Brown providing a screen in front of Emery. Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty assisted on Richards' 3rd goal this year.
Kings struck again on the power play at 12:50, this time with Toews in the box for high sticking. Doughty made a nice cross ice pass along to the blue line to a wide open Richards, who was able to get to the top of the left circle and fire off a slap shot. Justin Williams picked up the secondary assist on the play. Williams would later be part of a blown call by the officials at 18:56. Johnny Oduya was called for slashing Williams after he got tangled up with Ray Emery. I couldn't believe that Williams got away with the contact on Emery without being called for goalie interference. The Kings would spend the last 1:04 of the game with a 6 on 4 advantage, having pulled Quick from the net. Even with the two man advantage, the Kings could not get a shot off in the last 64 seconds.
* Brandon Bollig actually did something useful on the Hawks first goal. He made contact with Jonathan Quick which caused him to lose his stick. You can see in the replay Bollig nonchalantly knock Quick's paddle away from him so he couldn't pick it up. I didn't see it happen live because I was mesmerized with how wide open Seabs was. I didn't understand what Quick was arguing about after the goal but he did have a legitimate gripe.
* I called out both Seabrook and Patrick Sharp in yesterday's preview and the both answered by scoring goals. So who should I call out tomorrow? Think I will go with Marian Hossa who has been very quiet lately.
* Speaking of Seabrook, it was good to see him return to action after taking a slap shot to the junk at the end of the 1st period. That is an injury that would make the toughest of tough guys cry like a child who lost their puppy.
* It was a bit discouraging to see the penalty kill unit give up 2 goals in the 3rd period. It's very hard to get down on a unit that has been so good this season. Considering they have only given up six power play goals on the year and had only two PPGs in the last five games I would not get to worried about it. I just hope this doesn't become a regular thing.
* Dave Bolland continues to struggle at the face off circle. He was 5-13 at the dot, which is only good for 38%. I love Bolly but if he wants to continue with the 2nd line he is going to have to improve on his draws. His 42.6 winning percentage on the year is the worst among the regular centers.
* I was very happy to see Michael Frolik get on the score sheet with his assist on Brent Seabrook's goal. He has been working his ass off on the penalty kill and been part of a pretty effective 4th line. I think when Daniel Carcillo comes back some time this week he will fit in well with Frolik and Marcus Kruger. That can be a pretty dangerous 4th line and probably the best one in the NHL.
The Blackhawks return to action tomorrow night when the hated Vancouver Canucks come to town. You have to believe that would want nothing more put to end the Hawks point streak before they can tie the 06-07 Anaheim Ducks for the best start ever.