Filling the skates of Marian Hossa is no easy task, but Michael Frolik stepped right into them and produced in the same fashion as his Blackhawks teammate.
Unlike when Hossa is in the lineup, the Hawks couldn’t make a big night by Frolik stand up as they fell 5-4 to the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings on Monday night at the United Center.
Dustin Brown scored the game-winner, Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist and Jarret Stoll, Dwight King and Tyler Toffoli also had goals for the Kings to help goaltender Jonathan Quick earn the victory.
With Hossa sidelined with an injury, coach Joel Quenneville inserted Frolik on the top line with fellow winger Brandon Saad and center Jonathan Toews and the line clicked in the losing effort.
Frolik had two goals and an assist, Toews a goal and an assist and Patrick Kane also scored but Corey Crawford had an uncharacteristic shaky night in the net and couldn’t hold a third-period lead. Duncan Keith added three assists for the Hawks but they fell for the second consecutive game and dropped to 24-4-3 on the season.
With Hossa out with an upper-body injury that a source said is his shoulder, Frolik got his chance and he chipped in early when Saad fed him a pass and the veteran’s quick shot from the edge of the right circle eluded Quick. It was Frolik’s first goal since the 2013 opener against the Kings on Jan. 19.
After Kopitar scored off a terrific individual effort to snap the Kings’ 150-minute-35-second scoreless skid by the Kings, Los Angeles took the lead on Stoll’s short-handed goal.
Frolik’s second of the game came off a nifty deflection of a long Keith to tie the game and give the Hawks momentum. They rode it into a score from Kane that will be added to his personal highlight reel this season. The winger scooped up a loose puck, broke in on Quick, showed patience and after a deke that sent the goalie sprawling, tucked the puck into the net.
It appeared the Hawks would reach the second intermission with the lead, but Kings defenseman Drew Doughty had other ideas and battled his way through two defenders to get a shot on Crawford. The netminder made the save but kicked a big rebound into the crease where the puck deflected off the skate of King and into the net with less than a second remaining. A review of the play confirmed it was a good goal and the game was even.
Early in the third, Frolik earned his third point of the night when Toews pounced on a rebound of his teammate’s shot and shoveled it past Quick to put the Hawks ahead.
Los Angeles tied it midway through the third on one Crawford would like back as Toffoli floated a puck past the screened goalie. Late in the third, Brown beat Crawford from the slot as the goalie came too far out of the net on a play in front of him.
By Chris Kuc, Tribune Reporter