By TIM CRONIN | Associated Press
CHICAGO (AP) — Jonathan Toews converted Jake McCabe’s pass into an open-net goal in overtime, and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 on Thursday night.
Toews scored his seventh goal of the season 1:31 into the sudden-death session, with goaltender Jonathan Quick drawn to the side by McCabe.
The Blackhawks snapped a four-game winless streak and dropped the Kings to 2-2-1 in their last four.
“I think we can get back to simplifying a little bit and making it harder on the other team,” Toews said. “Right now, it’s fun to just go play. They weren’t any for this team or myself this year.
“Caber was kind of going back-door there, one of their defensemen got a stick on it, and Caber got a second chance and made a really nice play,” Toews said of the set-up for his game-winner.
Chicago’s Jason Dickinson opened the scoring with a mid-slot deflection of Caleb Jones’ drive from the right point 12:54 into the second period. The lead lasted 3 1/2 minutes, until the Kings’ Blake Lizotte converted Arthur Kaliyev’s 2-on-1 pass behind goaltender Arvid Soderblom for a 1-1 deadlock.
Soderblom, making his first start with Chicago’s regular goaltenders sidelined, stopped Kevin Fiala from the doorstep with 3:45 to play to help force the overtime session, then turned back Trevor Moore’s wrist shot from 15 feet 45 seconds into OT.
“Today felt good right from the start,” Soderblom said. “I’ll just try to take it day-by-day. I feel great in the net.”
The tight-checking contest featured few good scoring chances until the Kings took three shots at Soderblom within five seconds midway through the second. Adrian Kempe, Gabriel Vilardi and Mikey Anderson were all turned back.
The Kings threatened again 8:18 into the third, but Carl Grundstrom fired wide from 20 feet out from the left-wing circle.
“I didn’t think we had as much polish as we’ve shown offensively,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said.
Soderblom turned back 32 Kings shots.
“His ability to stay cool and make a big backdoor save (on Fiala), he doesn’t just do that,” Chicago coach Luke Richardson said. “He then controls his body and seals the post so there’s no rebound. I saw him in rookie camp and an exhibition game, but this is a different animal when you get to the season.”
Quick stopped 17 Chicago shots.
“I think that’s actually more of our identity,” Lizotte said. “I thought we were pretty tight defensively. I think that’s actually a good sign for us, that we’re in these 1-1 games versus 6-5 shootouts.”
The NHL’s replay review system wiped out a four-minute Kings power play early in the third period, the review detecting Kaliyev lifting the stick of Jones, which in turn hit Lizotte in the face.
With their top two regular goaltenders sidelined, the Blackhawks started Soderblom for the first time this season. Soderblom started the season in Rockford of the AHL, his home most of last season, but filled in twice with Chicago in recent games.
Additionally, Chicago signed AHL goalie Dylan Wells to a two-way contract to act as Soderblom’s backup while waiting for either Petr Mrazek (groin) and Alex Stalock (concussion protocol) to return from the injury list. Mrazek skated separately from the team on Sunday but there’s no timetable for his or Stalock’s return.
Los Angeles opens a four-game home stand against Florida on Saturday.
Chicago starts a three-game road trip at Winnipeg on Saturday.
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