Blackhawks repeatedly buried in defensive zone during overtime loss to Kings
The Hawks spent huge portions of their 2-1 loss Thursday in Los Angeles pinned in their own zone, although goaltender Petr Mrazek repeatedly bailed them out until the final seconds of overtime.
LOS ANGELES — The Blackhawks endured several ridiculously long shifts pinned in their defensive zone Thursday, including a remarkable four-minute marathon for defenseman Alec Regula at the end of the second period.
They somehow managed to avoid conceding any goals directly within those situations. But the resulting lack of offense still ultimately bit them in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Kings.
Kings forward Kevin Fiala scored with 1.4 seconds left in the extra session to avenge the Hawks’ overtime win in the two teams’ first meeting last week and deal the Hawks their sixth loss in seven games.
“[We need to] just try to do everything you can to not prolong those shifts before you get caught in our own zone,” Max Domi said. “Their team seemed to be generating a lot of momentum out of that. [We’ve] just got to work on closing plays a little quicker, both forwards and ‘D.’ Just a little more communication will solve that problem.”
In net, goaltender Petr Mrazek sparkled in his return from injury. His final stat line of 31 saves on 33 shots undersold his performance.
He repeatedly bailed out his exhausted teammates during those lengthy shifts, joking that he “needed new lungs” after Regula’s marathon. And he made a series of huge saves in the final minute of regulation (and first minute of overtime) to earn the Hawks one point.
“[After] the first few saves, especially the breakaway early in the first period, when you stop that, you feel even more confident, you feel better in there,” Mrazek said.
But the Hawks have scored just four goals in their last four games combined, largely due to the lopsided possession-time deficits they’ve faced each night. The Kings dominated scoring chances, 38-20, on Thursday; it marked the 11th time in 13 games this season the Hawks have been out-chanced.
Coach Luke Richardson said he’ll need to discuss how to reduce the turnovers that lead to those long defensive-zone shifts — and also how to conserve energy within those types of shifts.
“It [requires] that little bit of extra effort,” Richardson said. “[When] you’re not moving your feet and you turn the puck over in the neutral zone or at the blue line and it comes back in your zone, those little plays everywhere on the ice are important. Just little chips in the neutral zone to get guys off the ice. When we don’t do it...it’s going to be a shift spinning around in your ‘D’-zone. It’s not fun.”