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Up 2 in 3rd, Blackhawks falter
For most of Sunday night, all was right in the Blackhawks' world.
The largest home crowd in six years had come out to see what these Hawks, winners of four straight games, were all about as they faced the team with the worst record in the NHL.
The Hawks took a two-goal lead in the third period and had one of the hottest goaltenders in the league making save after save.
Then the bottom fell out.
The Los Angeles Kings scored three straight goals, including Dustin Brown's game-winner in overtime, to defeat the Hawks 3-2 before 21,175 at the United Center. The loss dropped the Hawks' record in December to 5-6-1 and 19-16-2 overall.
"With a 2-0 lead, we have to motivate ourselves to finish hard and play for the last 20 minutes," rookie Jonathan Toews said. "That's all we had to do, and we couldn't do it."
Toews gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead with his 15th goal of the season at the 2-minute-16-second mark of the second period after he banged a rebound of a Brent Seabrook shot past Kings goaltender Jason LaBarbera.
After Jake Dowell scored his second goal of the season at 2:10 of the third off a nice feed from Martin Lapointe to make it 2-0, it was all Los Angeles.
Brown scored his first goal of the game 33 seconds later, and former Hawk Kyle Calder's power-play goal tied it 2-2 at 7:29. That set up Brown's heroics with the game-winner with 3:31 elapsed in overtime.
"We gave up way too many chances, and it came up and got us at the end," Dowell said. "We didn't get the two points we wanted. That's the reason we lost. We just got too loose with it and gave up too many chances."
Brown's overtime goal, which gave him a career-high 18, came off a scramble in front of the net and halted Hawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin's personal four-game winning streak.
"You go up two goals in the third period, you have to come out with two points," said Khabibulin, who made 33 saves. "We had the effort, but it didn't happen. We know we're not going to win every game, but if you go up two goals you expect to win, so that was disappointing."
The Hawks next travel west, where they'll play three games in four nights beginning Tuesday with a rematch against the Kings, who rallied to win with three goals after the second period for the second day in a row.
"I hope this isn't an indication of how we're going to play on the road," Toews said. "We have to put 60 minutes together one of these nights and just play for each other and stick to our systems."
Sunday's crowd gave the Hawks two straight sellouts and was the largest since the Hawks hosted the Colorado Avalanche before 21,811 on Dec. 27, 2001.
"I think we took for granted the crowds we've had lately and the energy the crowd has given us," Toews said. "Sometimes we're taking maybe some shortcuts here and there."
One-timerSergei Samsonov, whom the Hawks placed on waivers Saturday, was a healthy scratch along with David Koci and Magnus Johansson. If Samsonov clears waivers, he will be sent to Rockford of the American Hockey League.
"I hope for him that he gets picked up," Hawks coach Denis Savard said. "I'm sure if somebody picks him up he'll be able to help them. He's not a third- or fourth-line guy. He's never been his whole career."
Samsonov, acquired in a trade with Montreal in June, is in the second year of a contract that pays him $3.5 million. He doesn't have a goal in 23 games and has just four assists and is a minus-7.
"The first couple of games I thought he was OK," Savard said. "I was going to give him a chance for 20 games and see where he's at because he struggled last year. It was more of a business move that we made and hoped at the same time that it would spark his career again."