LOS ANGELES – The Blackhawks looked at Saturday’s Circus Trip finale for what it was: their sixth game in nine nights, second game in as many days and second straight game without their captain.
All things considered, they’ll take the point.
Patrick Kane scored his eighth goal of the season but Jeff Carter had the winner in overtime as the Los Angeles Kings slipped past the Blackhawks 2-1 on Saturday. The Blackhawks wrapped up their Circus Trip with a 3-3-1 record. Scott Darling did his best to give the Blackhawks a chance, stopping 27 of 29 shots.
For the Blackhawks, who had some ups and downs on this trip, finishing at .500 wasn’t so bad. With Jonathan Toews missing his second straight game with an upper-body injury sustained against San jose, the Blackhawks will take three out of four points on Friday and Saturday.
“We played six in nine nights. It was a busy schedule,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “You’re missing your key guy in playing him in all situations in Tazer. I thought the guys hung in there and did what they needed to do.”
They didn’t do a lot early, though, as the Kings outshot the Blackhawks 13-4 through 20 minutes. The Kings appeared to make a statement early in this one when Tyler Toffoli’s backhand slipped past Darling. But coach Joel Quenneville challenged for goaltender interference and won – officials ruled that Tanner Pearson pushed Niklas Hjalmarsson into the net, “caused Hjalmarsson to contact Darling, preventing him from playing his position in the crease.”
“I didn’t know exactly what happened,” Darling said. “All I know was somebody interfered with me making the save so I had to wait and watch the replay. Once I saw the replay I made the signal to the coaches to challenge it. That’s what they did. We were fortunate we got it overturned.”
[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]Los Angeles kept the pressure and the shots but they wouldn’t lead after one. Kane gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 edge after redirecting Duncan Keith’s shot. It was the Blackhawks’ first shot on goal in the game. The Kings had 11 by that point.
But the Kings got revenge 57 seconds into the second when Alec Martinez scored from the right circle for a 1-1 tie. The Blackhawks couldn’t muster much in the third period. They killed off a Brent Seabrook delay of game 59 seconds into overtime but Carter scored the winner moments later.
The Blackhawks are finally heading home. The trip didn’t start well and it ended pretty well. It’s been one hell of a trek, the latter part of which their captain wasn’t there to complete with them. All things considered, the Blackhawks will take the decent ending over a bad one.
“They’re a good team. I know they’re not known for getting a high shot total but they were throwing everything at the net the first two periods. We really shut it down in the third,” Darling said. “We battled, played well. It’s the end of a long road trip. To battle to a 1-1 tie on the road, seventh game, anyone can win in overtime. You obviously want two points but at least we got one.”