The Chicago Blackhawks held three different leads in the game, but they couldn’t quite put things away, and a Jake Muzzin goal late in regulation gave the Los Angeles Kings a 4-3 lead on Wednesday night.
Patrick Kane, Andrew Shaw, and Patrick Sharp all scored goals for the Hawks, but two goals by Jeff Carter and a tally by Tyler Toffoli helped the Kings to grab the victory late in the contest.
With both teams entering their first game off of the All-Star Break, it was the Blackhawks who came out and scored quickly. Just two minutes into the contest, David Rundblad got the puck at the point, and he blasted a shot toward the net. It was blocked down by the Kings’ defense, but it skipped over to Kane and he deposited it into the back of the goal to give Chicago a 1-0 lead.
The Kings responded well to the goal, generating several chances and ultimately they were able to cash in. Carter made an excellent play to carry the puck out from behind the net and into the low slot, and with Johnny Oduya providing an unintentional screen on Crawford, Carter’s shot curled just inside the near post and in to tie things up at 1-1 about nine minutes in.
With a Drew Doughty penalty a few minutes later, the Blackhawks seized control back of the game and got the lead back. Some nice passing around the perimeter by the Hawks got the Los Angeles defense moving around, and Kane saucered a pass across the ice to a wide open Sharp. The winger fired in a quick shot that beat Quick, and in the blink of an eye the Blackhawks held a 2-1 advantage.
At the end of the first period, the Blackhawks were unable to convert on a Dustin Brown penalty, and the Kings took advantage and tied things up. Carter won a puck battle with Jonathan Toews along the boards, and he wheeled around and skated toward the net. When Crawford went down into his stance, Carter lifted a shot over the goaltender’s glove and just under the crossbar to tie the game at 2-2.
The Kings had a ton of chances over the rest of the second period, but the Blackhawks made some key plays to keep things tied up. Niklas Hjalmarsson stepped up with a key poke-check against Anze Kopitar as the center went for a loose puck, and a few moments later Carter’s breakaway bid for a hat trick goal was foiled by Crawford. Finally, the Blackhawks managed to kill off a Brent Seabrook penalty late in the frame, with shot blocks by Ben Smith and Michal Rozsival keeping the contest knotted at 2-2 after two periods of play.
Early in the third period, the Blackhawks’ offense got off to another quick start and snatched the lead right back. Teuvo Teravainen managed to push a puck over to the right side of the ice for Shaw, who beat Quick on the short-side with a wrist shot to put Chicago in front by a score of 3-2.
The Hawks did a nice job of playing keep-away from the Kings in the middle stages of the period, but with about six minutes to go, another defensive lapse cost them dearly. With Carter sliding across to screen Crawford (and making a bit of contact with the goaltender in the process), Toffoli pinched in and ripped a slap shot past the Chicago goaltender to tie things up at 3-3.
With just three and a half minutes to go, the defending champions won a face-off in the offensive zone and scored again. After Anze Kopitar won the draw, Jake Muzzin got the puck at the point and rifled a shot toward the cage. The shot ended up skipping off of Hjalmarsson and beat Crawford to put Los Angeles up by a 4-3 margin.
The Hawks had a couple of great chances late, but none would go. Toews had a shot go off the post with about 50 seconds to go, and then Hossa drove in on a semi-breakaway and was stoned by Quick to give Los Angeles the victory.
The Blackhawks will look to rebound from the loss when they take on the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night.