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Final at Staples: Blackhawks 4, Kings 3

January 3, 2011 |  8:43 pm


What should have been a chance for the Kings to clean up -- an eight-game homestand at Staples Center -- is instead turning into a nightmare.

The Kings started strong but faded Monday and lost to the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-3, their fourth consecutive defeat. They’ve lost the first three games of the homestand.

Ryan Smyth scored twice but Jonathan Toews scored late and Corey Crawford made a point-blank glove save on Anze Kopitar with 14.4 seconds left to lift end the Blackhawks’ three-game losing streak.

The Kings dominated the early minutes and took 10 of the first 11 shots but produced only one goal. That came back to haunt them after the Blackhawks converted two power plays and grabbed a 2-1 lead.

The Kings scored their first goal at 4:28, one second after a penalty against Patrick Sharp had expired. Jack Johnson rifled a long wrist shot through a crowd in front, and it was redirected by Michal Handzus for his first goal in 20 games. Handzus scored his last goal Nov. 20 at Boston.

Dustin Brown and Jarret Stoll each clanged shots off the iron, drawing groans from the crowd. The groans were even louder when Rob Scuderi was sent off for interfering with Patrick Kane at 17:40, and the Hawks capitalized at 18:42. Sharp, at the blue line, sent a pass deep to Tomas Kopecky. He fed Marian Hossa, who used his strength to drive to the net and stuff a shot past Jonathan Quick.

Hossa hit the crossbar on a three-on-two early in the second period before the Hawks gained -- and cashed in on -- another power play. Kopitar shot the puck over the glass, an automatic delay of game penalty at 6:41, and Chicago scored 30 seconds later.

Kane set it up with a perfect pass from deep on the right side to Sharp, in the left circle. He powered it home for his team-leading 22nd goal of the season.

The Kings pulled even at 2-2 at 18:17, after Justin Williams capitalized on a turnover by Jack Skille and sent Smyth in behind the Chicago defense with a perfect lead pass.

But Chicago regained the lead at 4:27 of the third period after a turnover by Kings defenseman Alec Martinez in his own zone. Kopecky pounced on the puck and fed Sharp, who lifted the puck over  Quick’s glove.

The Kings pulled even at 3-3 at 12:42, during a power play. Johnson’s shot was so blisteringly hard it broke the blade of Smyth’s stick as he tipped it home.

But Chicago wasn’t done and took a 4-3 lead at 14:33 on a strange play. Brent Seabrook was well behind the goal line when he flipped the puck in front, and got lucky when it hit the back of Quick’s head and plopped into the slot. Drew Doughty tried to clear it but fanned, and Toews somehow got enough of the puck to score.

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--Helene Elliott

Photo: The Kings' Marco Sturm and Blackhawks' Brent Seabrook head toward the ice after a collision in the second period Monday night at Staples Center. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times