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Balance lost in the shuffle
Head coach Denis Savard shuffled his forward lines for the Blackhawks' West Coast trip with the intent of bringing balance to his team.
The result of the first of three games in four nights was about as uneven as a game can get as the Hawks fell 9-2 to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night before 16,916 at the Staples Center for their second loss in a row, both to the Kings.
As if the result wasn't bad enough, rookie Jonathan Toews suffered a knee injury during the first period. The standout center will return to Chicago to have the injury evaluated further, but head coach Denis Savard believes it's a second degree strain to Toews' MCL, saying he could be out "two to four weeks, but we'll find out a little more this week."
Things got off to a promising beginning as veteran winger Martin Lapointe scored his third goal of the season 2:54 into the game. Lapointe banged home a rebound of a Rene Bourque wrap-around attempt past Kings goaltender Jason LaBarbera to make it 1-0.
Los Angeles wasted little time tying it 1-1 on a power-play goal by Tom Preissing at the 4:02 mark but the Hawks took a 2-1 lead as Patrick Sharp scored off a pass from rookie Patrick Kane while on the power play at 11:01. Kane slid a pass along the goal line and Sharp scored on a one-timer for his 20th goal of the season.
After that it was all Los Angeles as the Kings reeled off eight unanswered goals.
Ladislav Nagy scored three of them and had two assists for a five-point night and Alexander Frolov matched him with two goals and three assists. Patrick O'Sullivan, Dustin Brown and Lubomir Visnovsky also added goals.
"It was just an off night for everybody," Savard said. "We had lots of guys not playing to their potential. We had a pretty good start, a good first period. The fifth goal we just gave up and didn't battle as hard as we can and we should and the result was pretty simple."
The Hawks yielded nine goals in a game for the first time since losing 9-1 to the Dallas Stars on Nov. 4, 2005 and face having to play two games in the next three nights without Toews.
"I was chasing the puck around in a couple of different directions and I think I just tried to change directions too quick and my leg kind of gave in a little bit," Toews said.
Medical reportIn addition to Toews' injury, defenseman Cam Barker missed the game with the flu and was replaced in the lineup by Andrei Zyuzin, who took a stick to the face late in the game. ... Savard doesn't believe injured winger Martin Havlat (groin) will be able to join the team in Phoenix for Thursday's game against the Coyotes. Savard also said veteran winger Jason Williams might play when the Hawks return home for Sunday night's game against the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center. Williams has missed 17 of the last 18 games with a groin injury. ...
Defenseman Brent Sopel, out with a broken finger suffered Dec. 26, skated with Havlat and Williams in Chicago on Tuesday but is unlikely to play until at least next week. ...
Ben Eager, who played in three games after being acquired in a trade with Philadelphia before suffering a concussion Dec. 23, is feeling better and should begin riding the bike in the next day or two.