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Blackhawks fall to Kings in shootout

Kings defenseman Drew Doughty goalie Jonathan Quick can't stop goal credited Marcus Kruger tie score one each second period as

Kings defenseman Drew Doughty and goalie Jonathan Quick can't stop a goal credited to Marcus Kruger to tie the score at one each in the second period as the Chicago Blackhawks host the L.A. Kings Sunday March 11, 2012 at the United Center. | TOM CRUZE~Sun-Times photo

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Updated: April 13, 2012 10:37AM



It’s not a secret the Blackhawks miss Jonathan Toews. But it’s not like they’ve fallen off the face of the earth without him.

Yes, his return can’t come soon enough. But in Toews’ absence, the Hawks’ newly constituted top line of Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa has done more than enough to keep the team float.

Despite a 3-2 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday at the Untied Center, the Hawks are 5-4-1 since their captain went down with a concussion, and much of that is down to Kane, Hossa and Sharp.

Hossa has eight points in as many games, and Sharp has seven points in the last five.

‘‘We’re playing well as a team,’’ Kane said. ‘‘We pretty much took it to them in the second and third periods, and you could say we’re missing [our] best player, too, so things are looking pretty bright for us even after a loss today.’’

Kane scored for the fifth time in the last seven games to tie the game at 2 midway through the third per­iod. Sharp and Hossa collected assists as the Hawks were able to rescue a point.

‘‘Tough start,’’ Kane said. ‘‘We gave up chances, it seemed like the first three shifts. [Before] the first goal, we probably had three glorious chances to score, and then they come down on [an odd-man rush] and score themselves.’’

The Hawks finally found a way past Jonathan Quick (35 saves) midway through the second per­iod when Marcus Kruger punched home a rebound to tie it at 1 after defenseman Drew Doughty used his fist to keep out a blast from Sharp.

The goal ended the Hawks’ drought of 175:59, spanning 10 per­iods, against Quick and the Kings.

‘‘He’s a good goalie,” said Viktor Stalberg, whose second-period penalty shot was stopped by Quick. ‘‘He’s one of the premier goalies this season, having a great year. Without him this year, they [would be] low in the standings. They’ve struggled to score goals, and he’s definitely kept them in a lot of games.’’

Ray Emery stopped 27 of 29 shots and kept the Hawks in the game early when the Kings fired 17 shots on net in the first.

‘‘[Emery] was big,’’ Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. ‘‘They threw a lot of pucks [on net], had a lot of traffic, and they crashed the net and they create chaos [in that area]. But I thought he stood his ground and battled hard and kept us in the game at an important time.”

Emery, who has yet to lose in regulation this season at the United Center (10-0-2), also had three saves in the shootout and helped force two misses before the Kings’ Mike Richards scored in the sixth round.

Kane, Sharp, Hossa, Stalberg and rookies Kruger and Andew Shaw failed to score in the shootout for the Hawks.

Despite that disappointment, the Hawks still grabbed a point against a team that has been incredibly difficult to break down this season.

‘‘It would have been nice to get the second [point],’’ Sharp said. ‘‘But battling back late in the game, there is a positive, and we’ll move forward. It’s better to get one than nothing.’’



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