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Blackhawks fall to Kings despite Corey Crawford’s heroics

Crawford returned from a rough start to make 45 saves, but the Hawks lost 4-3 in overtime.

Crawford made 45 saves in the Blackhawks’ loss.
AP Photos

LOS ANGELES — Corey Crawford’s first five minutes on Saturday seemed potentially disastrous. And the game’s final five minutes were indeed disastrous for the Blackhawks.

In between, however, the veteran goalie was spectacular, keeping the Hawks alive until the end despite another dreadful overall performance in a 4-3 overtime loss. Crawford made 45 saves on 49 shots, holding the Kings at bay until Drew Doughty won it with 16.6 seconds left in OT.

“Our goalies are getting peppered, eventually pucks are going to go in,” a defeated-sounding Jonathan Toews said afterward. “They’re doing a great job of trying to keep us in these games. But whenever we seem to get something, we let it go.”

Initially, the Hawks seemed on track to be blown out again as the Kings scored twice in the game’s first 4:29.

Crawford was struck in the mask with a hard snap shot early on, and was pulled from the game by referees immediately after the second goal. He said the referee thought he was “dazed or something,” but that he wasn’t actually feeling any symptoms.

He cleared concussion protocol in the locker room and returned to the game after Robin Lehner — who will likely start Sunday against the Ducks — made five saves in his stead.

Crawford then played spectacularly from then out, even though the Kings statistically dominated: the hosts controlled possession and finished with 80 shot attempts to the Hawks’ 47.

“Considering the time we spent in [the defensive zone], we did a pretty good job of limiting the chances,” Jeremy Colliton said. “They got a lot of shots, but at some point, it starts to wear on you when you can’t exit clean. And we could never get a push going the other way.”

Despite the lopsided balance of play, the Hawks rallied twice, with Dominik Kubalik and David Kampf scoring in the first period and then Toews tying the game with 1:39 left — his first regulation-time goal this season.

Adam Boqvist’s NHL debut was another bit of good news. The rookie defenseman played 15:03, including some in the 3-on-3 period, tied for the team lead in hits (he had three) and survived a marathon shift during the long change.

But altogether, the Hawks played barely better than in Tuesday’s humiliating defeat in Nashville, even though they at least earned a point Saturday. They now rank bottom-five in the NHL in shot attempt, scoring chance and shots on goal ratios.

“There’s some things we need to be better at,” Colliton understated. “We know that.”