Wow,what a hockey game and comeback for the Kings vs the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks on November 28th in front of a 144th straight sell out crowd. Chicago had just come off an overtime win vs. the Ducks the night before after trailing 2-0 going into the third period but this time it was reversed. The Blackhawks were dominating the first 2 periods and had a 2-0 lead on goals by Patrick Kane (leagues leading scorer and his 19th consecutive game with at least one point) and Niklas Hjalmarsson as he deflected a shot past Jonathan Quick for his first goal of the season. Anze Kopitar made a sloppy giveaway and Kane blasted it past Quick, who had stopped him on a point blank shot in the first minute of play. The Blackhawks were getting to all the loose pucks and winning the battles.
However, the Kings came out with a lot of energy in the third period and even if they didn’t admit it, Chicago was not as crisp and the fatigue from back to back games may have come into play. Jeff Carter (10th goal of the year) scored on a rebound shot of his own to make it a one goal game. Kopitar made a great pass to Marian Gaborik, who scored his 4th goal of the season after a very slow start to tie the game at 2-2 late in the third wristing a shot past Scott Darling. Quick saved the game after Dustin Brown got lost and allowed Jonathan Toews a breakaway with just a few seconds left in the game. Then came overtime and it was a show for the fans. The new 3 vs 3 is thrilling and nervous for the players but super exciting for the fans. There were so many back and forth chances and finally Gaborik came in alone and scored the game winner for this huge victory on a breakaway with another nice pass from Kopitar who redeemed himself. This was the first time Chicago had lost after being up by 2 goals in the third period in over a year.
The Kings remain in first place in the west after this intense matchup of the last 4 Stanley Cup Champions. The Blackhawks had to shed some money and lose some players including Saad and Sharp but kept their nucleus of Kane, Toews, key defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook adding young forward Artemi Panarin to Kane’s line and holding onto veterans Hossa, Shaw and Van Riemsdyk. Center Artem Anisimov has contributed too for Coach Joel Quenneville’s team.
The Kings are coming off a long road trip and starting to gel before they hit the road quite a bit in December. Milan Lucic seems to have found his stride fitting in now after a slow start as well as Kopitar. Toffoli is second on the team with 20 points scoring 11 goals and the defense has been solid along with Quick in goal. They just need some scoring from some other players like Dustin Brown, Nick Shore and Trevor Lewis (only 2 goals each this year so far), Kyle Clifford and Jordan Nolan (zero goals total), The west is deep with Dallas leading the way in their division but there is a long way to go.
Gaborik mentioned it was big for him scoring 2 goals and helping the team win. Coach Sutter was in his usual low key mood when addressing the media after this win. He said, “it was gratifying coming back from 2 goals and we played a pretty solid game and felt like we were still there after 2 periods.” I asked Coach what was the difference in the third period and he said, “not too much as Carter scored early in the third and we had a very good second period too. Goal scorers look at themselves as they build confidence when scoring goals so this is a jump start. The teams are very close and many one goal games and not much difference.” About Kane, “he is a great player as he was injured last season and the previous season he won the scoring title.” About the the last second chance by Toews, “Quicky made 2-3 breakaway saves and not sure what Brown was doing inside the line there.”
Interview with Christian Ehrhoff said after the game, “we were 2 goals down and it is always nice coming back and get a win like that. Everyone at Staples enjoyed that too. We didn’t panic and stuck to our game plan pushing in the third period finally getting rewarded on Carter’s goal. There were many chances in overtime each way and we had the better end.” On Gaborik contributing, “It is always great when different guys chip in to see him get going. We wanted to have our best period in the third. I think the overtime is very exciting but not the coaches seeing 2-1’s each way. They wanted to see games finish in the overtime and the fans love it.” When asked how big of a win was it vs the Blackhawks, he said, “ It doesn’t matter that we beat them (Chicago) but it is a great character win vs the Stanley Cup Champions.” On Kane’s streak, he said “it is very impressive especially with what he is doing. Last year the leader was at a point per game so what he is doing hasn’t been done in a long time” He has 36 points in 23 games. I asked if he felt that Chicago got tired in the third and he said, “ I don’t know if they got tired or we just upped the energy. I see it that we kept moving forward. You want to keep pushing the play and not want to give up the losing goal but keep what you are doing good.”
Gaborik post game interview. “The first period wasn’t as great as we wanted to play, but we picked it up in the second even though they had the 2-0 lead. We had a lot of chances as the game went on and we tried to get it to [Scott] Darling and get traffic. Jeff [Carter] cut it in half, and we were able to come back and win it. We never thought we weren’t going to win. There was a no quit atmosphere here because we knew we could come back. We sustained a lot of pressure in their zone and we were able to capitalize.”
Regarding the comeback- “It was a great game for the fans. You could hear that, it was unbelievable. We never quit. That team over there on the other side is a great team. We came up short in their building, and we are happy to redeem ourselves and get two points in this building.
Seabrook said after the loss,’ we played well and let it get away. A win tonight would have made the trip really good as we played well in some parts and not so well on other parts.” I asked if the team got fatigued at all and he said, “I don’t think so as we came out with some energy. I thought we skated well and didn’t have a lack of energy.”
Kane said, “it was the same exact game but opposite way. We seemed to sit back and play it safe and that doesn’t work in this league. They took it to us. It is natural to sit back but that is not the recipe for success as games can turn on a dime and many players have played a lot of games in this league. I asked him if there was any fatigue and he said, “no we had an afternoon game the day before and many guys skated this morning and we just didn’t have a great effort.” About his game streak “ Only 3 American born players have done it but it is overshadowed by the loss. We can go back home and play at the United Center. I have become close with Eddie (Olczyk) and I ask him for advise all the time and he is willing to share.. Also Phil (Housley) both 2 great players and careers and fun to be there with” about the scoring streak.
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