The 2009 circus trip is finally over, and the verdict is in: success. With a point in Los Angeles on Saturday night, the Hawks grabbed their 17th point in their last ten games, including a 4-1-1 road trip on the west coast of North America. Not bad.
And, if nothing else, it was an entertaining tilt. Joel Quenneville set the tone early when the Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane line had two full shifts by the 2:15 mark. It helped the Hawks set the pace in the first, but they were unable to cash in, with the Kings limiting their number of opportunities. Their one chance of the period came when Kane found himself in alone from the circles in, but got caught on his backhand. He was unable to lift it over the glove of Jonathan Quick, and the Kings took a tie into the second.
Then, less than three minutes into the second frame, a seemingly harmless Michael Handzus and Wayne Simmonds 2-on-2 turned into a King lead, when Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith managed to cover neither Handzus nor Simmonds. Simmonds dropped the puck to Handzus and slipped past Keith, and Handzus quickly head-manned it past the defenseman before Simmonds slipped it past Cristobal Huet for the lead.
Despite a handful of good chances, the Hawks were only able to muster a tie by the end of regulation. The lone goal came following a Handzus holding-the-stick infraction and after Kane wheeled into the slot on the ensuing power play. Quick stopped the first shot, but Toews tucked in the rebound to tie the game.
The last half of the third and overtime were both played without a tally by either team, but the sort of play was what the NHL envisioned when it changed the overtime frame to 4-on-4. The five-minute extra period included a minute of 4-on-3 for the Hawks, who were unable to take advantage.