LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 03: Patrick Sharp #10 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrates a goal by teammate Patrick Kane #88 in the first period against the Los Angeles Kings during the NHL game at Staples Center on February 3, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Patrick Kane scored two goals and Corey Crawford had 31 saves as the Chicago Blackhawks won the first game of their two-game swing through the City of Angels as they knocked off the Los Angeles Kings by a score of 5-3 on Monday night.
Bryan Bickell, Marcus Kruger, and Nick Leddy also added goals for the Blackhawks as they picked up their second win of their six-game road trip before the Olympic break. Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar, and Tyler Toffoli all scored goals for the Kings as their comeback attempt came up short.
In what became a dominant theme of the evening, the Kings got the game off to a physical start, but they didn’t toe the line very well, as Doughty headed off the ice with a charging penalty just 25 seconds into the game. The Blackhawks were quick to make the Kings pay too, as Kane grabbed the puck behind the net off a give-and-go pass from Jonathan Toews, and then drove to the net and deked out Jonathan Quick to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead just 1:02 into the game.
Right after that goal, the Blackhawks were sent on another power play as Colin Fraser was whistled for holding Andrew Shaw’s stick in the face-off circle, but they erased the power play when Patrick Sharp was sent to the box after committing an undisciplined high-sticking penalty against Willie Mitchell. The Blackhawks were able to kill off the ensuing double-minor with a minimum of difficulty, and they maintained their lead.
A little over a minute after the Sharp penalty expired, the Blackhawks got on the board again. This time, it was Kane doing the facilitating, as he came into the zone on a 3-on-1 along with Shaw and Bickell. With Shaw driving the net to take away the defender, Kane was able to find a seam and dish a beautiful pass to a wide open Bickell, who drove it home with a one-timer to put the Blackhawks ahead 2-0.
Just over a minute after the Hawks grabbed the two-goal lead, the Kings were able to climb back into the game. With Shaw in the box on a roughing minor picked up along the half-boards, Los Angeles cycled the puck out to the point, where Doughty was waiting to unleash a hellacious slap shot that beat Crawford and made the game a 2-1 contest.
The rest of the period saw some ferocious checking by the Kings, but the Blackhawks were content just to hold onto the puck. They weren’t able to convert on back-to-back power plays they received courtesy of Slava Voynov (delay of game) and Dustin Brown (interference), but they still went into the first intermission with a one goal lead.
Coming out in the second period, the Kings seemed to gather a lot more momentum than they had in the first stanza, and they were rewarded with a power play less than five minutes into the frame when Niklas Hjalmarsson had to commit a hooking infraction on Jeff Carter to prevent an easy scoring chance for the home side.
The ensuing power play did not result in a goal, but just seven seconds after the penalty expired, the Kings tied things up. With Hjalmarsson darting off the ice for a line change instead of jumping in on the play, the Kings were able to get numbers on a rush down the ice, and a pass from Carter found Kopitar streaking untouched between the face-off circles. He then pulled off a nice deke on Crawford and slid the puck between his leg pads, and the game ended up tied at 2-2 just 6:30 into the second.
The Kings got another chance to take the lead when Marian Hossa was sent to the penalty box for a slashing penalty in the offensive zone, but thanks to some solid goaltending by Crawford and a couple of key clears, the Hawks were able to kill off the infraction with a minimum of difficulty.
Perhaps emboldened by that success, the Blackhawks were able to grab the lead a few minutes later. On a great shift by the fourth line, Brandon Bollig and Ben Smith both did some great work behind the net to hold onto the puck, and Kruger got sandwiched between two Kings players in front of the net. Kruger popped right back up though, and when Leddy fired in a shot from the point, Kruger was able to put his stick blade on it in the low slot, and the shot beat Quick to give the Hawks back a 3-2 lead.
The rest of the period played out like the majority of the game, with the Hawks maintaining possession and the Kings trying desperately to impose their physicality to gain the puck back. As a result, the two sides ended up in a bit of a stalemate, and the Blackhawks took their lead into intermission.
Once again in the third period, the Kings came out firing, racking up a 7-0 lead in shots early in the period. Crawford was up to the task on all of them, moving effectively in his crease and preventing any real scoring chances.
After Matt Greene was sent to the penalty box for interference, the Blackhawks went to work on their power play once again. They weren’t able to get the puck in the net during the following two minutes, but just after the man-advantage ended, they got an important insurance goal. With Mike Richards screening his own goalie, the Blackhawks cycled the puck beautifully, and Leddy got it at the point. He fired a low, hard shot past Quick’s glove and into the net, and just like that the Hawks were up 4-2.
Not content to sit on their lead though, Kane put them up by three goals just four minutes later. After Sharp stole the puck from his nemesis Mitchell at the point, he flew into the zone and dished a gorgeous cross-ice pass to Kane, who flipped home the easy one-time goal past Quick to put the Blackhawks up for good.
Toffoli did add a goal about 33 seconds later to keep things interesting. On a great rush up the ice, Jeff Carter flew into the zone and attempted a wrap-around shot. The puck ended up settling in the blue paint, and Toffoli quickly pounded home the rebound to make it a 5-3 game.
The rest of the game proceeded rather uneventfully, with both teams getting a couple of decent chances, but the Blackhawks were content to just play keep-away for the most part as the Kings’ attempt at a comeback stalled out.
The Blackhawks will stay in southern California for the next few days before they tangle with the Western Conference-leading Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center on Wednesday night.