Luck and Consistency Not on Kings Side
It shouldn't have come down to a lucky rebound late in the third giving the Chicago Blackhawks the 4-3 win and the season sweep over the Kings. But when Jonathan Toews, in his first game back after missing two games with a shoulder injury, got that puck past Jonathan Quick for the game winning goal all the air left STAPLES Center.
“That's bad luck,” head coach Terry Murray said. “I guess when you're the Stanley Cup Champion you probably get breaks, you probably get lucky bounces like that.”
Indeed it was lucky. From the back of the net Quick made the save, but as Drew Doughty tried to clear the puck it hit Toews' leg going into the net for the game winner at 14:33 in the third period.
But it shouldn't have been that way. Not after the Kings pummeled the Chicago in the first period not allowing a shot-on-goal until 8:16 after the Kings had already made 10 shots. In fact the Kings had the early advantage when Jack Johnson's shot from the center of the blue line was deflected in by Michal Handzus in the crease with the aid of a screen by Marco Strum at 4:28.
“Through the first period we were pretty solid in our game plan, getting pucks deep, getting on our D, getting chances and scoring opportunities,” Jarret Stoll said.
“Everything we wanted to do with the intensity, knowing they were a team that played yesterday and had a lot of offensive zone time,” Murray agreed.
But it all came apart in the second period. As Murray put it, “Second period we were fine for the first four or five minutes and then the intensity changed, the tempo changed and we got ourselves in trouble. We stopped managing the puck the right way. We forgot about the details of the game.”
After outshooting the Hawks 13-6 in the first period, the Hawks bounced back to outshoot the Kings 12-5 in that second period. Not helping were the penalties by the Kings.
After going 0-for-9 in the first three meetings on the power-play, the Hawks made sure to take advantage with the man advantage. A wrap-around by Marion Hossa 18:42 in the first period tied the game, and a Patrick Sharp one-timer from the left circle 7:11 in the second period gave the Hawks the 2-1 advantage.
“Those are killers especially since we had the momentum in the first period,” Justin Williams said. However he wasn't willing to say that it cost them the game. “Special teams didn't win it or lose it for us tonight. It was the effort in the second period probably where we lost it.”
The Kings unwilling to throw in the towel managed to tie things up later in the second period when Ryan Smyth behind the defense at the Hawks blue line got the perfect feed from Williams from the Kings blue line. With only goalie Corey Crawford to beat, Smyth did just that to tie things up at 18:17.
However a turnover by the Kings defense early in the third period allowed the Hawks to crash the net. Sharp was the willing beneficiary going to the right side of the crease and getting the puck past Jonathan Quick at 4:27.
“That puck we had at our blue line should have never come back in our zone,” Murray said about that goal. “That's a thought process we've got to clean up.”
The Kings tied it with Smyth's power-play goal from the left point on a pass from Anze Kopitar from the boards outside the right circle at 12:42, but to no avail.
Detroit Pistons at LA Lakers.. 7:30 p.m. FSWest, AM 710 KSPN.