The Chicago Blackhawks knew they’d have to dial up their game going into Game 4 against the Los Angeles Kings. Not only did they have to win to force the Kings to the brink of elimination, they had to contend with the loss of Duncan Keith due to his reckless slash of Jeff Carter on Tuesday. Keith was suspended for one game on Wednesday, and his absence would really be felt.
The worrying over replacing Keith began as soon as his suspension was announced. Who would take his place? Who would take his minutes? The first was answered when Sheldon Brookbank was added to the roster, but he soon became ineffective and could’ve stopped the Kings’ second goal had he kept his eye on Dustin Penner. Brookbank ended the game with only 6:50 of ice time, the lowest among the team’s defensemen.
Everyone stepped up to fill Keith’s shoes, especially Patrick Kane. Kane had openly taken responsibility for his scoring drought and said that he knew he had to be better. On Thursday night, it was Kane who led the team with seven shots on goal, and his tip-in goal that tied the game in the second period brought that famous little grin back. He would’ve had a second goal in the third period had Jonathan Quick not reached up while splayed on his side to glove the puck.
The win puts the Blackhawks at a 3-1 series lead, and they return to Chicago determined to eliminate the defending champions. They know the win in Game 4 wasn’t easy, but they’ll be ready for a desperate Kings team come Saturday night.