Blackhawks blow multiple leads, fall late to Kings 4-3
The Blackhawks were able to jump out in front a few times against the LA Kings, but were unable to sustain their momentum in falling in Hollywood.
At some point in the very near future, the Chicago Blackhawks are going to have to address their defensive corps. That statement isn't a knee jerk reaction, by any means. After multiple tilts heading into the All Star break were headlined by defensive breakdowns, the futility of having Johnny Oduya and Michal Rozsival in the lineup was on display once again, as the Hawks fell 4-3 to the Los Angeles Kings to kick off their road trip.
This one actually had plenty of positive signs for the Blackhawks. Patrick Kane was able to get them on the board early, as a deflected shot ended up right on his stick, and Jonathan Quick was too far out of his net to do anything about it. That was an early theme, as Quick's trademarked overaggressive nature led to several opportunities for the Hawks to pot a couple extra, but they were ultimately unable to do so.
The Kings evened things up on a Jeff Carter goal later on in the first, before Patrick Sharp put the Hawks back on top with a power play goal. It should be noted that his goal came off of a gorgeous pass from Patrick Kane, whose on-ice vision is beyond anybody playing in the NHL right now. The Hawks were able to take that 2-1 lead into the first intermission, but were unable to maintain it.
The reason for that is primarily the fact that Jeff Carter plays for the Los Angeles hockey team and he plays really well against the Blackhawks. Also, Johnny Oduya and Michal Rozsival. The two squads entered the third period tied, after the Hawks were able to kill off a key penalty late in the middle frame. And while they were able to pull ahead again, it didn't make a difference in the end.
Andrew Shaw got the Hawks back on top in the third period, off of a very nice pass from Teuvo Teravainen. We talk about Kane's vision, and there have been so many Kane comparisons when scouting and talking about Teuvo. Passes like his setup on the Shaw goal are the reason why. The Kings evened things back up on a Tyler Toffoli goal in which the Hawks' top line was completely gassed, leaving the opportunity wide open. Jake Muzzin tallied the final goal, and eventual game winner, on a shot that deflected off the stick of Niklas Hjalmarsson.
The Kings have had a lackluster season to this point, but they're still in the hunt and they have a history of doing this sort of thing. They'll make a move at the deadline and be right there in the mix come May. Don't be surprised to see a Western Conference Finals rematch for a third consecutive year. If that's the case, the Hawks are going to have to do something about their blue line if the result is going to be anything different than it was tonight.
Onto the stars...
Three Stars of the Night
3. Teuvo Teravainen
We all saw the vision on the pass on the Shaw goal. Shaw's play has actually improved since Teuvo joined him, giving you an indication of what this kid's upside is. He's still getting knocked around quite a bit physically, but the hands and the vision are some next-level stuff. If they weren't, he wouldn't have been getting minutes late in a close game against a Stanley Cup contender.
2. Andrew Shaw
Andrew Shaw gets more credit than anything for not letting his head get the best of him. The Kings made it a point to go at Shaw all night. Robin Regehr knocked him around quite a bit throughout the night (as multiple Kings d-men got away with multiple interference calls), and despite the absurd effort to get a rise out of Shaw, he was able to remain out of the penalty box for the game. Oh, he scored a goal too.
1. Patrick Kane
The guy is just on another level right now. He was in the right place at the right time for the Blackhawks' first goal, before his second point of the game came on that gorgeous dish to Patrick Sharp on the power play goal. He's at a point where his own teammates aren't even good enough to hang with him. Kane laid a few sweet passes to Patrick Sharp on a power play late in the first period, and they were placed in a very specific spot that Sharp just couldn't get to. Kane was on another level tonight, even with the loss.
Randy Holt is a staff writer for Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @RandallPnkFloyd.