LOS ANGELES -- The third period was moving along flawlessly for the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night. They scored the go-ahead goal in the opening minutes of the third, then battened down the hatches in front of goalie Corey Crawford.
But in what seemed like the blink of an eye, the lead was gone and soon any chance at earning a point or two followed.
The Los Angeles Kings scored two goals in the contest’s final seven minutes to send the Blackhawks away with a 4-3 loss at Staples Center, something that’s become all too familiar against the Kings during the past year.
Afterward, Crawford's broken stick lay next to his stall, and even a postgame locker room visit by actor Vince Vaughn barely brought a smile to his tender's face.
"It’s frustrating." Crawford said. "We played a good game, and [the Kings scored] two quick ones at the end. I guess everyone can pretty much tell how we feel about that one."
Crawford was clearly unhappy with some of the calls that were made -- or not made -- during the game but passed on making any comments regarding the officiating.
Patrick Kane wasn't so reserved, pointing to a slash in the final minutes that resulted in a broken stick but wasn't called. He also referred to a penalty earlier in the game on Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook for using his hand to pull the puck out from under his backside as he sat in the middle of the slot, something he claimed the Kings had done just prior to the penalty.
"There were a couple calls that could have been made," Kane said. "[The referees] were maybe playing catch-up after we had three power plays [in the first period] and evened the score a little bit."
If the Blackhawks wanted to pick out a part of their game that let them down, it was the lone goal they scored on four power-play chances. Kane scored with the man advantage just past the midway point of the opening period, but Chicago came up empty on the next three.
"I think we might have sat back a little bit and waited for them to come to us," Kane said. "Usually when we do that, bad things happen."
Jonathan Toews said it all came down to the final minutes.
"We played 55 solid minutes of hockey," he said. "I think our line is obviously looking at ourselves after that one. All three of us could have been a little more intelligent in our zone, getting the puck out and not giving them those chances to score late in the game."
It won't get any easier this week for the Blackhawks, who will get a day to regroup before playing the Western Conference-leading Anaheim Ducks on Friday night in the second of six straight road games coming out of the All-Star break.