Sunday’s game marked a brutal stretch in the Blackhawks’ schedule where they played four games in six days, this game being the second of a back-to-back. Despite going through a small streak of contests where they played complete games, the Hawks have gone back to their losing ways, having dropped their last four matchups, earning just two points during this period of time.
With the injury of Corey Crawford, their best player currently, compounded with their lack of offensive production, the Blackhawks have relied on their defense to keep them in games, which they have done well. Still, the Hawks are reverting back to some of their old problems, including a lack of offense, minimal power play output, and almost no production from the first two offensive lines.
In the first period, despite being tied on the scoreboard, the Blackhawks were severely outplayed and outshot, with Anton Forsberg making spectacular saves to keep the Kings off the board.
The second period was a much better frame for the Blackhawks, with some high quality goal-scoring chances that they just failed to convert on. With around 14 minutes left in the period, the Blackhawks had their first golden opportunity when LA Kings center Anze Kopitar hooked Nick Schmaltz, preventing a wide open net off a Ryan Hartman shot.
This was a very good penalty for the Kings, considering it saved them a goal. Due to their supreme PK, Los Angeles limited the Hawks to just one shot on the power play, swinging whatever momentum Chicago had in the Kings’ favor.
Just two minutes into the the third period, the Kings had a chance to break the deadlock after the Hawks turned the puck over to right winger Marian Gaborik. With just Gaborik, Hawks goaltender Anton Forsberg, and ice between, Forsberg made a miraculous glove save to keep the game tied a zero apiece.
However, LA drew blood 9:29 into the third period when Christian Folin netted a long wrister top shelf past Forsberg through two screens. This goal marked Folin’s second goal of the season, assisted by Dustin Brown (12) and Anze Kopitar (17).
Just a few seconds after the Blackhawks pulled their goalie, Dustin Brown scored a empty net goal from just before the red line, doubling the Kings lead and seemingly deciding the outcome of the match.
But 17 seconds later, the Blackhawks injected some hope into their fans when Jonathan Toews ended Jonathan Quick‘s shutout on a wrist shot for his seventh goal of the season, assisted by Brent Seabrook (8).
Oooooooooh Toews, what a shot! Hawks down 1 late! pic.twitter.com/eA9jtUmCgM
— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) December 4, 2017
However, this hope quickly disappeared when the Hawks turned the puck over in the neutral zone to Kopitar, who buried a shot in the empty net for his 14th goal of the season, causing the Kings to win the game 3-1.
- Jonathan Toews’s goal late in the third period was quite an encouraging sign for me, considering the lack of production in the top two lines.
- The Hawks still will need much more production from the top lines if they want to win games. If the stagnant offense continues, I expect Joel Quenneville to mix up the lines in an attempt to ignite some scoring.
- The Blackhawks’ power play (now 22nd in the NHL) unacceptably went 0/4 today. I understand that the Hawks were facing the best penalty kill in the NHL, but still, even with the man advantage, the Hawks couldn’t even get set in their offensive zone, resulting in unsustained offensive possessions. Many times, this swung the momentum in the Kings favor.
- Patrick Sharp‘s slump continues. If Quenneville is willing to go against his natural tendency of playing veterans over young talent, I expect Vinnie Hinostroza to get called up.
The Hawks look to rebound from this loss against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday. Puck drops at Capital One Arena at 7:00 PM (CT).
Three Stars of the Game
3rd Star: Jonathan Quick -21 Saves, 1 GA
2nd Star: Dustin Brown -1G, 1 A
1st Star: Anze Kopitar- 1G, 1A