Blackhawks at Kings: One Goal (Win)
During the All-Star break, we wrote that this is the most losing the champion-era LA Kings have ever done. Three points out of the playoff picture, they needed to come back to LA and do some winning. Unfortunately, the next team on the schedule was the Chicago Blackhawks, who the Kings (like so many teams) have a lot of trouble playing.
The Kings lineup came in with a couple changes. Mike Richards had been waived and assigned to the Manchester Monarchs. Tyler Toffoli was activated after being on IR with mononucleosis, missing six games.
Toffoli clearly came back ready to go. He found Jeff Carter to set up a great scoring chance within the first minute. Despite the Kings’ strong start, the Blackhawks open the scoring on a fortunate bounce. A shot blocked by Brayden McnBabb landed right in front of a wide open Patrick Kane. Nothing but net. 1-0 Blackhawks.
Fortunately for the Kings, Jeff Carter was playing like a man determined to fuel a hundred heartbroken romantic friendship narratives. He took a shot, eventually regained control of the puck behind the net and turned to take another shot as he skated out toward the slot. 1-1. Tie game.
The Blackhawks went up 2-1 on their first power play of the night, but Carter came through again to tie during a Kings power play. He couldn’t connect on a another chance to complete a hat trick, but he had a great shorthanded opportunity to do so during the second period.
That he got a second shot attempt here makes it even sweeter.
Carter wasn’t the only person playing well. Despite taking a couple penalties, Dustin Brown had a really strong effort. Early in the second, he held the zone for the Kings, and then his shot at the net created a great rebound opportunity for Anze Kopitar.
Niklas Hjalmarsson saved sure goal by knocking the puck away there. Great play by that Kings’ first line.
The Blackhawks had the possession edge after two periods, but the Kings still had the better scoring chances.
With the right momentum heading into the third, it felt like they had a real chance to finally be the team to pull ahead in a one-goal game. Unfortunately, a Jordan Nolan turnover early in the third period allowed Teuvo Teravainen to bring the puck through the neutral zone, enter the Kings’ zone with control, and then get a pass to Andrew Shaw even though the two defensemen facing him were Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin.
The goal meant yet another Blackhawks lead. They successfully guided the pace of the game for the next several minutes, limiting the Kings’ offense until Toffoli reminded everyone why he’s becoming known as a Hawks killer.
Robyn Regehr’s smart pinch on Brandon Saad allowed Toffoli to keep the puck on the zone. Carter passed to Dwight King, whose slick backhand pass to Toffoli genuinely made him worthy of being included in That 70s Line. Toffoli, right in the slot, fired past Corey Crawford. Tied again.
Surely this game was destined for another overtime loss for the Kings. Surely. Not if Muzzin had anything to say about it!
He’s shot from the top of the slot was deflect by Hjalmarsson, giving the Kings a 4-3 lead. They held onto it through the end of regulation for the win.