LOS ANGELES- The Chicago Blackhawks concluded their annual “circus trip” with a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center Saturday night.
It was the host Kings that looked like the road-weary team as they over-passed and under-performed through much of the game. Awkward breakouts and untimely turnovers punctuated a night in which Jarret Stoll scored the L.A. lone goal off a relentless shift by the Kings’ third line and third pairing. Simon Gagne also generated a pair of sterling chances and Trent Hunter had a hard-luck night, blowing multiple outstanding opportunities.
The Blackhawks pushed several “gimme” goals wide as well in a game they could have easily won by a wider margin. Both the quality and frequency of their scoring chances were higher and they effectively dominated possession for stretches. They earned a split of their six-game trip after completing a back-to-back sweep of the Ducks and Kings after a bumpy start that included a 9-2 loss at Edmonton.
Against the Western Conference powerhouses–Chicago, Detroit, San Jose and Vancouver–the Kings have gone a combined 0-4, with San Jose headed into town for a playoff rematch on Monday night.
Third Star- Defenseman Matt Green, LAK, who was a plus player thanks his own negation of stellar chances and his outstanding play during the Kings’ best shift of the game. He keyed action from the blue line during the stretch where Los Angeles pinned Chicago deep, including a shot attempt that led to Stoll’s goal.
Second Star- Defenseman Duncan Keith, CHI, who had his second straight two-assist performance. The 2009-2010 Norris Trophy winner was also outstanding defensively and on breakouts, showing why he has popped back into contention for the award this season.
First Star- Center Jonathan Toews, CHI, whose line buzzed throughout the net thanks to his brilliant combination of precise skill and brute force. After a five-point outing yesterday in Anaheim, he was quieter on the stat sheet but still managed to record the game-winning goal and produce dominant shifts.