Brown, Kings score in final 87 seconds to clip Blackhawks 5-4
BY MARK LAZERUS email@example.com March 25, 2013 9:53PM
Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin keeps Hawks center Jonathan Toews off balance in the first period of the NHL game between the Chicago Blackhawks and L.A. Kings Monday March 25, 2013 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: April 27, 2013 6:39AM
The last time — the only other time, actually — the Blackhawks lost consecutive games, it was easy to write it off. It was at the end of a brutal stretch of seven games in 11 nights, and the Hawks clearly were gassed. And that 24-game point streak that preceded it made everything a lot easier to swallow.
These last two losses, though, didn’t go down quite so easily.
For the second straight game, the Hawks let a third-period lead slip away and lost in the final minutes, as the Los Angeles Kings — who hadn’t scored a goal in more than two games — rallied for a 5-4 victory at the United Center. The loss came four days after two defensive breakdowns allowed the Anaheim Ducks to escape with a victory. That’s two consecutive come-from-ahead losses against two fellow Western Conference contenders.
“It kind of sucks,” said Hawks winger Michael Frolik, whose breakthrough two-goal game was spoiled.
And for the first time this season, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville was genuinely displeased with his team’s play and his team’s effort.
“It was a dangerous game for us,” Quenneville said. “You know, getting shut out two games in a row, they’re going to be hungry, they’re going to try to get the scrappy goals they got. But we didn’t respond to the challenge that was there. I was disappointed by how we played and what we gave them.”
After the Kings’ Dwight King scored a backbreaker goal with half-a-second left in the second period — just 39 seconds after Patrick Kane had given the Hawks a 3-2 lead — the Kings took the action right to the Hawks early in the third, peppering Corey Crawford (31 saves) with five quick shots. But Jonathan Toews scored 3:51 into the period on a Frolik rebound, giving the Hawks a 4-3 lead.
But, once again, the Hawks couldn’t keep it. Tyler Toffoli tied it at the 8:06 mark, then Dustin Brown scored the game-winner with 1:27 left, when the Hawks lost a faceoff in their own end. Brown’s first shot right after Anze Kopitar beat Toews on the draw hit Johnny Oduya. But the puck bounced right back on his stick for an easy game-winning goal.
“I wish I could tell you what happened,” Frolik said of the second consecutive late loss. “They got a lucky bounce, he shot and it came right to his stick and it was an open net. We’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Frolik scored in the season opener against these same Kings but hadn’t scored in the 27 games since. Moved to the top line to fill in for the injured Marian Hossa, Frolik was instant offense, with two goals and an assist. Duncan Keith added three assists, but the defensive breakdowns and poor power plays doomed the Hawks.
“It’s nice to get the monkey off your back; I didn’t score for a while,” Frolik said. “It felt good. But I’d be happier if we won the game.”
While Frolik did an admirable job on the top line, the continued absence of Hossa — who could be back for Friday’s game against the Ducks — and Patrick Sharp, who’s out at least another week, was readily apparent on the power play. The Hawks had only two shots on goal (and won only one of six faceoffs) in eight minutes of power-play time, including a double-minor in the first period. In fact, the Kings had more short-handed shots (three, including a second-period goal by Jarret Stoll) than the Hawks had power-play shots.
“We miss two guys like that,” Kane said. “They want the puck when we’re on the power play, and they like to make plays. That’s huge. When you have the confidence and patience to try to make plays, then you’re going to have success. We’re missing those two guys.”
They’re also missing that third-period swagger they had in the first half of the season.