CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks had valid excuses for their first three regulation losses. There wasn’t one for Monday’s.
Their first two losses came in the final games of a seven-game, 11-day span, and exhaustion was an acceptable reason for defeat. Those losses also allowed followed a 24-game points streak, so no one really cared. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville also shrugged off last week’s 4-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks because it was at the end of a four-game road trip.
But when the Blackhawks fell 5-4 to the Los Angeles Kings at the United Center on Monday, there wasn’t a justifiable excuse other than the Blackhawks had been outplayed on their home ice.
“We’re going into the game, and it’s a dangerous game for us,” Quenneville said. “(The Kings) getting shut out two games in a row, they’re going to be hungry, they’re going to try to get the scrappy goals they got. But we didn’t respond to the challenge that was there tonight. I was disappointed with how we played and what we gave them.”
The Blackhawks jumped on the Kings with a first-period goal as they had in their first two meetings, but the Kings weren’t staying down this time. The Kings responded with three second-period goals, including a final one with 0.5 seconds left in the period, to tie the game at 3-3.
As bad as the Blackhawks were in the second period, they still found themselves with a 4-3 advantage when Jonathan Toews put them ahead at 3:51 of the third period.
From there, it was all Kings. They tied the game with a goal by Tyler Toffoli at 8:06 and Dustin Brown put them ahead for good when he beat Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford with 1:27 left in the game. The Kings outshot the Blackhawks 17-9 in the third period and 36-25 for the game.
Quenneville had seen his team struggle in spurts before, but Monday was something different.
“Those were mistakes that were preventable in a prior game, but tonight it was just like it was ongoing, which (are) things we have to talk about,” Quenneville said.
Although the Blackhawks weren’t too bothered by their recent loss to the Ducks, there were undeniable similarities in the two defeats. The Blackhawks were leading Anaheim 2-1 in the third period before the Ducks fought back with three goals and took the two points.
“Anaheim, we kind of lost in the end, this one, too,” said Blackhawks forward Michael Frolik, who scored two goals Monday. “We go to make sure to play 60 minutes and kind of learn from it and make sure we’re ready for the next one.”
“That’s the best part of our league, especially in this shortened season, you get to play a lot of games,” Kane said. “We never really went through this before where we’ve kind of struggled a little bit. Two tough losses, so hopefully we can get it back tomorrow.”