CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 15: Ben Smith #28 of the Chicago Blackhawks moves under pressure from Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings at the United Center on December 15, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Toews had two assists, and Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, and Kris Versteeg scored goals as the Chicago Blackhawks knocked off the Los Angeles Kings in a 3-1 victory at the United Center.
After Saturday night’s disappointing effort in Toronto, the Blackhawks came out on a mission to get the early lead. They did get an early power play when Kyle Clifford got whistled for a tripping penalty in the neutral zone, but they weren’t able to convert as Scrivens turned away several opportunities and Duncan Keith turned the puck over to allow the Kings to kill off the remaining 20 seconds of the power play.
Despite that early setback, the Hawks continued to press the tempo of the game, and on a Kings power play, they were able to get on the board first. Jake Muzzin had the puck stolen from him behind the net by Jonathan Toews, and Toews immediately looked up and found an open Hossa in front of the Kings’ net. The Hawks’ veteran forward didn’t miss as he snapped a quick shot past Scrivens to make it 1-0 Blackhawks.
A few minutes later, the Blackhawks’ aggressiveness paid dividends as they scored again. This time, it was Patrick Kane who did the honors of winning a board battle in the defensive zone, and when he pushed the puck up the ice to Versteeg, he was able to do the rest, faking a pass to Michal Handzus on a 2-on-1 and when Scrivens bit, Versteeg pounced, firing a shot past the goalie’s glove to make it 2-0 Blackhawks.
As the period entered its final moments, the Hawks got a power play and immediately took advantage. Toews grabbed the puck in the face-off circle, and with Andrew Shaw providing a good screen in front of the net, Toews fired a pass across the ice to a wide open Sharp, who wristed the puck into the net for yet another power play tally as the Hawks grabbed a 3-0 lead before the intermission.
The second period started in much the same way for the Blackhawks, as they continued to probe for soft spots in the Kings’ defense. Kane got a nice 2-on-1 rush after a Kings defender made a late decision to head to the bench to grab a new stick, but unfortunately he couldn’t fool Scrivens this time as the goaltender made a spectacular glove save to keep the deficit at three goals.
Later on in the frame, it was Ben Smith that came in on a rush, and after he was forced off the puck, it was Toews who picked up the puck and was barely stopped by Scrivens.
The Kings did have a couple of good chances in the later stages of the period, but Raanta stood tall. On a high shot, Raanta pushed the puck to the far side of the net, and when Anze Kopitar tried to pounce on the rebound, it was Toews who was able to lift the Kings’ center’s stick to prevent a scoring chance and helped the Hawks maintain their 3-0 lead at the conclusion of the second period.
2-on-1 rushes continued to be the name of the game for the Blackhawks as the third period got underway, with Sharp and Toews going in on one against Scrivens. Once again though, the Kings’ goalie played the sequence perfectly, allowing his defenseman to take away the passing lane, and focused on the shooter, stopping Sharp’s snapshot with a minimum of difficulty.
The Kings got a power play toward the middle stages of the period, but they weren’t able to get many opportunities as several Hawks players, including Michal Rozsival and Duncan Keith, were able to jump into passing lanes and clear the zone in short order.
Perhaps disappointed with that turn of events, the Blackhawks went right back to work with their offense. Hossa had a great chance as he found a loose puck in front of the net, but his backhanded attempt was stopped by Scrivens. Brent Seabrook had a follow-up slapshot from the point after that play, but once again Scrivens was able to make the stop. Finally, Brandon Saad made an incredible deke in the offensive zone around a Kings’ defender, but Hossa was stopped on the doorstep.
Unfortunately for Raanta, he wasn’t able to finish off the shutout. Alec Martinez picked up a puck just above the faceoff dot, and his shot through traffic ended up beating Raanta to his glove side, and the Kings got to within 3-1.
After a late unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by Andrew Shaw, the Hawks once again had to go on the penalty kill, but they were the ones that got the early chances. Smith picked Slava Voynov’s pocket at the blue line, and ended with a breakaway opportunity, but Scrivens stood tall yet again and kept the game at a 3-1 margin.
The Blackhawks were able to kill off the power play and ended up making a couple of key defensive stops to end the game, ending the Kings’ six game winning streak and bouncing back beautifully from a horrendous loss to the Maple Leafs.
As a reward, the Hawks will get a day off before they face the Nashville Predators down in the Music City on Tuesday night.