It wasn’t too long ago that the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings shared the top of the throne like two civilized Super Smash Bros. Melee players engaging in playful banter from their share of championships from 2012-2015.
Now four years removed, both teams are no longer the teams they once were and find themselves as the bottom dwellers of the Western Conference facing off on a Saturday night.
The tendency that we as viewers have, especially when we are a follower of a team, is to focus more on the negatives than the positives. What kind of success is there when you’re a Los Angeles squad that has averaged 1.75 goals while allowing five goals on average in the last four games?
Well. Although it is true that the Kings can’t even buy a goal, they have shown that when they get on the scoreboard first, it has led to some treasure chest of confidence.
The LA Kings are now 4-2-0 when scoring first this season with a 4-3 overtime win against the Chicago Blackhawks. The win snaps a four-game losing streak.
While Kyle Clifford is a master at having tempers flare by throwing an occasional cross check from time to time, he stumbled upon another potion that boils blood: goal scoring.
Just 2:50 into the contest, Blake Lizotte gained the zone and found Tyler Toffoli who was double teamed alongside the nearside half wall before dishing it to a cutting Clifford for a score.
Clifford came off the bench and unbeknownst to the Chicago defenders that were puck watching, scurried to the front of the net.
The Blackhawks presented the Kings’ attack with more space to operate in than in a bag skate, which provided LA to generate shots that would put Corey Crawford under pressure in the early going.
Defenseman Matt Roy doubled the lead minutes later, solving Crawford with a wrist shot from the high slot.
Crawford then left the ice and the bench as Robin Lehner came in to play. According to Charlie Roumeliotis of NBC Sports Chicago, it turned out that Crawford left for concussion protocol but returned to the net five minutes later.
For the first time in a long time, Los Angeles were playing like a team that was of royalty as it took Chicago seven minutes to register their first shot on goal. With a two-goal cushion, the Kings didn’t seem too rattled when they were called for their first penalty of the night as the Blackhawks had a power play goal drought that the Grinch would approve of (0 for 21).
However, they did prevail on the power play. Just 17 seconds in, Kirby Dach summoned his signature move and sucked in three defenders like a vacuum. This sprung the cheetah in the Serengeti that was Dominik Kubalik who corralled the puck on the weak side for a tally.
The Five Nights at Freddy’s jumpscare equivalent for the Kings this season has been the goal tending as Jonathan Quick and Campbell possess a combined .861 save % and 4.15 goals against average.
There was a flash of brilliance seen tonight as Campbell stoned Jonathan Toews’ backhander with such finesse.
But Campbell couldn’t stay as nimble as a ballerina for long when he mishandled the puck when spinning away from Kubalik, allowing David Kampf with the easiest goal he will ever score in the NHL.
The Kings carried their 18-8 shot advantage from the second period to the third and the game’s trend of the team’s bottom six goal production continued when Michael Amadio’s goal tilted the game in Los Angeles’ favor once more.
On the play, Dustin Brown establishes and pushes puck possession past Chicago’s Andrew Shaw before whipping a cross ice pass to the 23 year old.
Toews, who entered the game with two points in 11 games, knotted the contest at three goals a piece with 1:39 remaining in regulation to force an extra period.
It would be the Kings that would have the last laugh as Chicago had a goalie blunder of their own which costed them two points.
Drew Doughty attained the title of hero in an unlikely fashion, tucking in a loose puck that trickled past Crawford but stood in the crease with 17 seconds to spare in overtime after an initial decision to pass the puck. Enjoy the marvelous goal call on the Spanish broadcast.
Los Angeles will play the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first game on a three-game road trip that begins on Tuesday.