The Los Angeles Kings were the latest victims of the Blackhawks
wrath, losing 3-1 Sunday at the United Center, snapping LA's
six-game winning streak.
One day earlier, the Blackhawks were humiliated 7-3 by the Maple
Leafs in Toronto.
That's why it was crucial for Chicago to rebound fast and furious
Sunday — and that's exactly what it did.
"I thought we played a real good game and in all facets of our
game," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "I think we needed a
game that was played the right way.
"It was a good response from last night's game, across the board. We
had a tough game. But a lot of energy in our lineup tonight."
Sunday was the third time the Blackhawks had bounced back in a big
way after a terrible outing in the previous game. After losing 7-2
at Nashville on Nov. 16, the Blackhawks took out their hostilities
the next night with a commanding 5-1 win over the San Jose Sharks.
Then, after a 5-1 loss at Colorado on Nov. 19, Chicago rebounded
with a 6-3 triumph at Winnipeg two nights later.
Add the Kings as the latest to learn a valuable lesson.
"They're the Stanley Cup champions," Kings coach (and former
Blackhawks star player and coach) Darrell Sutter said. "They got
their ass kicked last night, and they weren't very happy about it."
Right winger Marian Hossa, right winger Kris Versteeg and left
winger Patrick Sharp scored for Chicago, all goals coming in the
first period, while goalie Antti Raanta stopped 21 shots.
Chicago (24-7-5) leads the NHL in wins and 53 points through 36
games. The team is 17-0-3 when scoring first, 17-4-4 when
outshooting opponents, and is 7-0-2 in the second game of a
back-to-back series. They outshot the Kings 40-22.
The Blackhawks wasted little time getting back on track Sunday after
being derailed at Toronto, snapping a three-game winning streak in
which they had outscored opponents 19-6.
"Sometimes when things snowball and you put more pressure on
yourself, it doesn't seem to matter what you do, it just keeps
getting worse," Chicago captain and center Jonathan Toews said. "We
just have to relax and have good sticks and get back to our work and
just be real tough to play against, and we did that tonight."
Just seconds after Chicago defenseman Johnny Oduya was sent off-ice
for a tripping penalty, the Blackhawks tallied a shorthanded goal to
take an early 1-0 lead at 5:45 of the first period.
Team captain and center Jonathan Toews made a perfect pass from
behind the net to a waiting Hossa, and the veteran right wing did
the rest, pushing the puck easily past Kings goalie Ken Scrivens for
his 14th goal of the season.
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Just over four minutes later, Chicago capitalized again on
Versteeg's sixth goal of the season at 9:59.
But the Blackhawks weren't done yet. With 29 seconds left in the
opening period, Sharp let fly a 25-foot slapshot past an out of
position Scrivens to make it 3-0 in Chicago's favor. It was
Sharp's 16th goal of the season, and his seventh in the last 10
games, on the power play.
"You can't chase the lead against a team that's, what, 30 or 40
goals ahead of everybody in the league?" Sutter said.
Los Angeles (22-8-4) saw its six-game winning streak end, but
avoided what could have been its first shutout in regulation
time this season when defenseman Alec Martinez (second goal of
season) beat Raanta at 16:06 of the third period.
"Definitely not the start that we wanted," Kings forward Anze
Kopitar said. "It's hard when you play catch-up, especially
three goals. It's quite a bit to overcome against that kind of
team. It's no secret that we lost the game in the first period."
The win moved Chicago coach Joel Quenneville into a tie with Pat
Quinn (684) for fourth place on the NHL's all-time coaches win
list. Scotty Bowman, now a special assistant for the Blackhawks,
holds the all-time record with 1,244 wins, followed by Al Arbour
(782) and Dick Irvin (692).
"I feel fortunate to be where I'm at today," Quenneville said
when asked by The Sports Xchange what the achievement means to
him. "I've been in some real nice places with some real good
players and real good organizations. I had the privilege to
coach and work with a lot of great players.
"I look back to the spots I've been at, but I'm very happy with
where I'm at and I like the group I get to work with every day."
When asked if Bowman's mark is attainable, Quenneville laughed
and quipped, "No chance."
NOTES: Attendance was 21,426. ... Sunday marked the 10th
anniversary of the tragic death of Blackhawks great Keith
Magnuson, who was killed when a car driven by former NHL player
Rob Ramage crashed into another vehicle outside Toronto.
Magnuson was killed and Ramage was subsequently sent to prison
for four years after being found guilty of impaired driving. ...
Chicago plays at Nashville on Tuesday before a three-game
homestand against Vancouver, New Jersey and Colorado. ... The
Kings return to Los Angeles to start a four-game road trip
against Edmonton on Tuesday. ... C Trevor Lewis returned to the
Kings lineup after being on injured reserve from Nov. 21 to Dec.
14. ... The Blackhawks have scored at least one power-play goal
in each of last nine games (12 goals in total).
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