Cal Petersen returned to Chicago for a memorable first NHL start.
Petersen made 34 saves in his first NHL start and stopped Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in a shootout, leading the Kings to a 2-1 victory over the Blackhawks on Friday night.
“Best feeling in the world,” the 24-year-old Petersen said. “Obviously, the boys really battled hard for me.
“Just for it to end like that is really special. Probably the most fun hockey game of my life.”
Ilya Kovalchuk and Anze Kopitar converted the Kings’ first two attempts in the tiebreaker against Corey Crawford as the Kings ended their three-game losing streak.
Tyler Toffoli scored his fifth goal in the second period for the Kings, who have the worst record in the league (6-11-1) and had been outscored 9-2 during their three-game skid.
Petersen, a native of Waterloo, Iowa, attended his first NHL games at the United Center and played with the Chicago Young Americans of the Midwest Elite Hockey League when he was 16 and 17. He was on the United Center Ice with Notre Dame in the Frozen Four in 2017, although the Irish lost to eventual NCAA champion Denver 6-1 in the semifinal.
Brandon Saad was the only Blackhawks player to beat Petersen in this one though, scoring his fifth goal early in the third period to tie the score at 1-1.
“I’ve been to quite a few games here,” Petersen said. “To be on the other side of it was kind of awe-inspiring at first. Once I got a few shots and settled in, it kind of felt like just another hockey game, trying to get a win.”
Petersen made his NHL debut on Tuesday against Toronto, stopping 15 of 16 shots in relief of Peter Budaj after being recalled from the Ontario Reign on Monday. The 24-year-old Petersen was tested in spurts by Chicago, but was sharp when needed and came up with several close-in saves, outdueling Crawford.
The Kings are without their two top goalies, Jonathan Quick and Jack Campbell. Both are recovering from surgery to repair meniscus tears in one of their knees.
Crawford blocked 31 shots through overtime, but the struggling Blackhawks lost for the ninth time in their last 10 games (1-6-3).
Although the Blackhawks came on late, they didn’t test Petersen hard enough throughout the game, Kane said.
“All goalies are pretty much the same,” Kane said. “They’re big. If they see the puck, they’re probably going to stop it.
“(We needed to get) those side-to-side passes, especially against a guy who hasn’t really played in the NHL before, getting him uncomfortable and getting some traffic in front.”
Carl Hagelin played his first games with the Kings. The 30-year-old forward was acquired in a deal that sent Tanner Pearson to Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
The Kings picked up the tempo near the end of a scoreless first period and got a few good chances. Crawford stopped Toffoli point-blank with 5:30 left in the period, then denied Nate Thompson, who skated in with 1:20 left.
Toffoli finally opened the scoring at 10:29 of the second following a Chicago turnover.
Chicago’s Erik Gustafsson fell and lost the puck at the Kings’ blue line. Toffoli picked it up, powered into the Chicago zone and beat Crawford between the legs when his shot from the slot deflected off defenseman Duncan Keith.
Buoyed by three power plays in the second, the Blackhawks started to test Petersen late in the period. He preserved the 1-0 lead with a quick save on Nick Schmaltz’s one-timer from the slot during a Chicago power play with four minutes left in the second.
“I thought we got some energy off the power plays,” said Chicago coach Jeremy Colliton, who is 1-2-2 since taking over for Joel Qunneville on Nov. 6. “We had some chances but it didn’t go in.”
Saad crashed into the crease and tied the score at 2:39 of the third on Chicago’s 21st shot, redirecting Toews’ feed from the side of the net past Petersen high on the glove side.
Crawford made a toe save on a shot by Jeff Carter from the right circle with 1:21 left in regulation to keep it tied.
Petersen stopped Gustav Forsling’s tip-in attempt 2:21 into overtime. Anze Kopitar’s shot hit the post about a minute later.