CHICAGO — There was the individual brilliance of Kings defenseman Drew Doughty and the signature grit and persistence of captain Dustin Brown.
That combination propelled the Kings to a course-correcting 5-4 victory against the league’s top team, the Chicago Blackhawks, on Monday night at the United Center. Brown’s game-winner came, via his own rebound, with 1 minute 27 seconds remaining. It was his 12th goal of the season.
The Kings broke out of a goal-scoring drought — which had extended through two losses and another period, a total of 150 minutes and 35 seconds — to record their biggest win of the season. Anze Kopitar set up Brown’s game-winner and also scored the Kings’ first goal at 4:21 of the second period.
“It was a statement game,” said Kopitar, who had one goal in eight games before Monday. “I think so. We all quietly thought about that. You don’t want to pinpoint any games, really, because every game is huge. But I do think this was a gut check, as [Kings Coach] Darryl [Sutter] would say, too.
“Getting down, two, three times against a good team, in coming back, we showed good character. It’s not easy to play in this building. It’s probably one of the most intimidating buildings in the league.”
For the Kings, it was anything but easy and didn’t unfold in an efficient package. There was a flurry of defensive breakdowns and forwards Mike Richards and Jeff Carter struggled, going a combined minus-five.
“We battled against different things each period,” Brown said.
They killed off a double-minor to Richards for high-sticking in the first period, fell behind 3-2 in the last minute of the second period and tied it with 0.5 seconds left in the second after Doughty’s one-man charge through the Blackhawks.
History will say the goal went to Dwight King. In fact, the goal was reviewed after the rebound of Doughty’s shot went in off King’s skate and it was ruled that there was no kicking motion. The rush by Doughty started in his own zone as he went through five Blackhawks with a series of dazzling moves.
Doughty, in fact, thought he had doubled his goal total from one to two.
“I just grabbed the puck in the neutral zone and had a few guys I had to skate by,” he said. “After that, I made a couple of lucky moves — well, half lucky, I guess. I meant to do them. Usually I would get rocked with my head down for that long.
“I thought I scored it too and they didn’t give it to me. I’m going to have to ask Kinger if that actually touched him. I hit it again. I don’t know if it went off his skate or what happened.”
Brown smiled when the word “highlight” was used to describe Doughty’s goal. Doughty is almost like a rambunctious younger brother to some of the Kings.
“Let’s not go too far with him,” Brown said, looking amused. “I’ll tell him: It’s not how, it’s how many.”
The other Kings goals came from Jarret Stoll, a short-handed effort off a two-on-one in the second period, and from rookie forward Tyler Toffoli, who was back in the lineup after being scratched for two games.
Toffoli’s quick shot, which tied it at 4-4 in the third period, seemed to catch Chicago goalie Corey Crawford unprepared.
The Blackhawks had three goals off faceoffs but the Kings would get the biggest one of the night for Brown’s eventual game-winner.
“Kopi [had] a great draw and I got to the middle and I went to shoot ,” Brown said. “It kind of went off my stick, bounced off their guy [defenseman Johnny Oduya] and right back to me.
“Like I said, at this point, you take anything you can get. It’s just a big win for us.”
Tuesday’s White House visit by the Stanley Cup champion Kings and the MLS champion Galaxy will be streamed live on the websites of both teams, starting at 10:35 a.m. PDT.