CHICAGO – It was exactly what the Los Angeles Kings needed coming off two straight shutout losses.
Not only did the defending Stanley Cup champions beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 at United Center on Monday, but they did it by shattering a lengthy scoring drought and coming back from one-goal deficits three times.
Tyler Toffoli and Dustin Brown were responsible for the final comeback effort, combining to score a pair of third-period goals that pushed Los Angeles back in front for good after Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews put Chicago up 4-3 early in the third. Toffoli tied it 4-4 about five minutes after Toews scored and Brown potted a rebound of Anze Kopitar's shot into a wide opening of the net with just 1:27 left in the game for the clincher.
"We didn't score the last two games, so it was nice to get on the board and off that schneid," said Kopitar, who also scored the Kings' first goal to tie it 1-1 early in the second and break a 150:35 scoreless skid. "Coming in [here] and scoring five goals, it's a big deal. We just stuck with it and it paid [off] in the end."
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (21 saves) made sure it did. Despite allowing four goals, Quick was great when he had to be – coming up with three big stops after Brown's goal, with the Blackhawks' net empty, to preserve the victory.
Jarret Stoll and Dwight King also scored for Los Angeles (18-12-2), which heads to Washington, D.C. for a White House visit on Tuesday before flying to St. Louis for the next leg of a five-game road trip.
"We had a huge third period from our third and fourth lines," Brown said. "They were probably our best two lines in the third and they found a way to get us that goal [by Toffoli] to tie it up. From there, we limited their chances pretty well, with maybe the exception at the end during 6-on-5 [play]."
Michael Frolik, playing right wing on the top line for Chicago in place of injured Marian Hossa, scored two goals and set up the goal by Toews. Patrick Kane also scored his team-high 17th marker for the Blackhawks (24-4-3), who dropped their second game in a row.
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville found himself with a rare moment to be critical of his team afterward, which was actually the second game in a row that's been the case. The Hawks also blew a late one-goal lead in Anaheim on the last game of their road trip last week to lose that game.
"We didn't respond to the challenge that was there tonight and I was disappointed with how we played and what we gave them," Quenneville said. "I don't know if I said it, but I was [also] disappointed the way we finished the game in Anaheim. It was a perfect trip until the last five minutes, but tonight was one game we can't be happy with what we gave them."
Despite scoring four times, the Blackhawks went 0-for-4 on the power play – including a four-minute advantage in the first period that resulted in just two shots on goal. They also allowed a shorthanded goal by Stoll and forced goalie Corey Crawford (31 saves) to make a big save on a different shorthanded breakaway by Brown.
Things started well for Chicago, as Frolik put the Blackhawks up 1-0 just 5:55 into the game with his second goal of the season. It was also his second goal of the year against the Kings, whom he scored against in a season-opening 5-2 win at Staples Center.
After Toews won a faceoff in the Kings zone, the puck went back to Duncan Keith – who worked it along the boards to Brandon Saad at the top of the left circle. Saad slid a crisp pass to Frolik in the slot, which he quickly snapped low and hard between Quick's pads.
Crawford, meanwhile, stopped all seven shots the Kings put on net in the first – which meant the seventh straight period in a row without a Los Angeles goal. The drought ended at 4:21 of the second on Kopitar's goal.
The Kings' leading scorer collected the puck just inside the Chicago blue line after an attempt to chip it into the zone hit a linesman. He then walked right to the slot before firing a hard wrister into the top right corner of the net for his 10th goal. Stoll then put Los Angeles up 2-1 with his shorthanded marker 3:04 later, after the Blackhawks turned it over in the Kings zone to create an odd-man rush.
After carrying the puck into the right circle, Stoll beat Crawford to the glove side with a wrister and just like that the Kings were rolling.
Frolik's second of the game stole some of the momentum back before Kane's tally at 19:19 of the second made it 3-2 Blackhawks. Once again, Los Angeles had an answer. This time it was King, who was credited with a goal off a rebound of Drew Doughty's shot that tied it 3-3 after deflecting off his skate blade and eluding Crawford with just 0.5 left on the clock.
It was reviewed in Toronto and upheld.
"I think getting that first goal [by Kopitar] was huge after getting shutout, but getting a shorthanded goal was a big momentum change," Brown said. "It was a great individual effort by [Doughty] on [King's] goal. The momentum was definitely different going into the third period 3-3."
Toews, however, quickly put Chicago up 4-3 just 3:51 into the third with his fifth goal in the last four games to give him a four-game goal streak. Frolik again was pivotal by blasting a slap shot from the high slot that hit Toews in front and dropped the puck to his feet. The Blackhawks captain swatted it past the sprawled Quick for his 16th goal, but Toffoli's blast through traffic tied it up yet again, 4-4, at 8:06 -- setting up another nail-biting finish in the Windy City.
"We have the confidence that we can do it," Kopitar said. "It was just a week ago or 10 days ago we cam back from a 4-1 deficit against a pretty good defensive team in St. Louis, so you think of that sometimes and you try to throw everything at them … and it worked out tonight."