Hawks respond to King taking run at ace

SportsSoccerCorey CrawfordPatrick LalimeNikolai KhabibulinMinnesota WildPatrick Sharp

Dustin Brown leads the NHL in hits this season, but the Los Angeles Kings winger might like to get back the one he delivered Saturday on Blackhawks rookie Jonathan Toews.

Brown got his stick up high and drilled Toews early in the second period. For that he got Brent Seabrook's fists in his face and an offensive explosion from the Hawks that ultimately allowed them to survive blowing a four-goal lead in a 6-5 overtime victory.

"He hit Toews pretty good, so I just thought I'd let them know that's not going to be allowed," said Seabrook, who drew instigator, fighting and misconduct penalties when he went after Brown. "[Toews is] one of our best players, and you can't have that happen. You have to protect them and stand up for each other. They can't be running at our players like that."

After Brown's hit, the Hawks broke open a 1-1 game with four straight goals, including two from Martin Havlat and Andrei Zyuzin within a span of 15 seconds. The Hawks then held off a furious rally in which the Kings scored four times in the third, including the game-tying goal with 15 seconds left.

But Patrick Sharp's goal 1 minute 48 seconds into overtime gave the Hawks their fifth victory in the last six games before a crowd of 18,118 at the Staples Center.

"That's not exactly how you want to win games, but this time of year we'll take the two points any way we can," said Sharp, whose two goals raised his season total to 29.

With the game tied 1-1 after first-period goals from Peter Harrold and Sharp, Havlat skated from behind the Kings' net and flipped a backhander past goaltender Dan Cloutier to make it 2-1. Zyuzin, playing in his first game after being a healthy scratch the previous 17, then took a pass from Robert Lang and chipped it into the net.

Toews made it 4-1 when he fired in a rebound of his own shot past Cloutier. The rookie then made a touch pass to Jason Williams 1:10 later to increase the lead to 5-1 after two periods.

"You appreciate when you have a guy who's going to stick up for you like that," Toews said of Seabrook. "It brings us together as a team and makes us play harder for each other.

"I was a little angry after that hit, so I wanted to go and get something done. It gives you a little bit of adrenaline, and I was lucky enough to create a few chances."

The Kings roared back on third-period goals from Mike Cammalleri, Tom Preissing, Patrick O'Sullivan and Anze Kopitar, but Sharp's goal helped the Hawks earn their 13th point in the last eight games as they try to climb back into the Western Conference playoff race.

"Seabrook has stepped up now twice in the last week for his teammates," Hawks coach Denis Savard said. "That's part of being a team that's jelling"

One-timersThe Hawks avenged a 9-2 shellacking they suffered the last time the teams met. … Defenseman Brent Sopel didn't play because of a broken bone in his left wrist and could miss up to two weeks, Savard said. Sopel suffered the injury blocking a shot Wednesday night against the Minnesota Wild. … Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin will miss his second straight game Sunday night when the Hawks travel to Anaheim to face the Ducks. Khabibulin is day-to-day with back spasms. Patrick Lalime, who earned his 11th victory of the season Saturday, is likely to start in Anaheim with Corey Crawford serving as his backup.

ckuc@tribune.com

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