The Chicago Blackhawks came into their Monday night game against the Los Angeles Kings needing to make a statement to the rest of the Western Conference, and that’s exactly what they did as they cruised to a 4-1 victory at the United Center.
Bryan Bickell scored the first goal of the game for the Blackhawks, and Duncan Keith, Bryan Bickell, and Marian Hossa all added tallies as the Hawks won their second game in a row and gained ground on the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators in the division standings. Jake Muzzin scored the lone tally of the game for the Kings, who dropped their second straight game as they scratch and claw for a playoff berth.
The Blackhawks got the game off to a great start as they dominated possession and quality shot opportunities in the early going, but Jonathan Quick helped to keep the game scoreless. Brent Seabrook had a good look that Quick stopped with relative ease, and Kris Versteeg and Brad Richards saw shots skip just wide of the cage.
The Hawks were looking like they would get a power play near the midpoint of the period, but Bickell ensured that they wouldn’t need the man-advantage. Brandon Saad made a nice play along the boards to come out with the puck, and as he circled the zone, he flipped a shot toward the cage. The puck ended up bouncing off of Bickell’s skate and into the cage, giving the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead.
A power play for the Blackhawks went by the wayside as Toews and Hossa were both denied chances, and the Kings used the momentum to score a goal of their own to tie things up late in the period. Muzzin threw a puck toward the net from the boards, and Scott Darling was unable to keep it in front of him as it slid between his leg pads to tie up the contest at 1-1.
The Blackhawks got a power play early on in the second period, and they took full advantage as they took a one-goal lead. After a couple of missed opportunities, Keith got the puck at the top of the zone, and with Shaw providing a screen in front of the net, his shot evaded Quick and put the Blackhawks up by a 2-0 margin.
Just over a minute later, the Blackhawks struck again. Patrick Sharp rang a shot off the post to begin the sequence, and after Johnny Oduya made a nice play at the point to keep the puck in the zone, Hjalmarsson skated it toward the net and rifled a slap shot past Quick to give Chicago a 3-1 lead early on in the second period.
Over the next few minutes, the Kings got some good chances on goal, but despite those shots and a power play, they weren’t able to draw any closer. Scott Darling played a big role in stymying any potential rally, stopping shots from Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty, and Justin Williams in a couple of key sequences to keep the Hawks in front.
Early in the third period, the Blackhawks seemed to find their sea legs, but Quick was there again to stop some big chances. The best one came fairly early in the frame came as Brad Richards made an excellent steal in the neutral zone, but Sharp was unable to score on the breakaway as Quick kicked the shot aside.
With about seven minutes remaining in the game, the Hawks iced the game thanks to one of their best two-way forwards. Hossa stole the puck in the neutral zone, skated into the offensive end and ripped a shot just under Quick’s left arm and into the cage to give the team a 4-1 lead that they would never relinquish.
The Blackhawks will get a couple of nights off before taking on the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.