One dramatic victory in Winnipeg turned into a convincing win in the United Center.A little momentum for the Blackhawks traveled a long way.Defensemen Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson scored 1:04 apart in the second period, and the Hawks beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-1 on Monday night.The Blackhawks were coming off a dramatic 4-3 win against the Jets on Sunday. Captain Jonathan Toews got the winning score in that one with 31 seconds left as the Hawks fought back twice from one-goal deficits.
”Sometimes, when you’re thrown right back into it, coming off the last game with good emotion, it can carry over,” Keith said. ”And I think we had a real solid team game all the way through.”
Marian Hossa had a goal and an assist as the Blackhawks pulled within a point of the second-place Blues in the Central Division. The Hawks play St. Louis twice in its final six games.After scuffling for four games – losing three of them – the Blackhawks used solid defense and puck-management basics to record a pair of important victories.
”The way we played for four games straight wasn’t the way we want to play at all,” Hjalmarsson said. ”You go through stretches in the season that aren’t going to be great, but that was pretty ugly.I thought we played really well today. It was a big game for them and important points for us as well.”
Scott Darling subbed for starting goaltender Corey Crawford and made 31 saves.
”Last night and tonight, the guys played great defense,” Darling said. ”They didn’t get any Grade A scoring opportunities. Even the goal was not a Grade A chance.”
Jake Muzzin scored for the defending champion Kings, who dropped their second straight in the finale of a five-game road trip. They also lost ground to Calgary in their bid for the final playoff berth in the West.
”We need points and we didn’t get any tonight, so at the end of the day we go home,” Kings captain Dustin Brown said. ”First thing we have to do is take care of business at home.”
The Kings play their next two games at Staples Center before playing three of their final four on the road.
”It’s not where we want to be, but can’t sit here and feel bad for ourselves,” Brown said. ”We still have a chance, so that’s what I think guys in this room have been really good at, is realizing that the opportunity is there.”
Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick stopped 36 shots. He was pulled after allowing two goals on nine shots in the first period of Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the surging Wild.The Western Conference rivals met at the United Center for the first time since Los Angeles eliminated the Hawks in overtime in Game 7 of last year’s conference finals. The Kings went on to knock off the New York Rangers for their second Stanley Cup in three years.The Hawks had to settle for a 1-all tie after 20 minutes.Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell opened the scoring at 5:31 on a deflection from the edge of the crease, capping Brandon Saad’s flashy setup. Saad swooped behind the net from the left to right side, cut through the right circle to the slot, and then dished to Bickell, who netted just his third goal in his last 21 games.The Hawks had chances to extend its lead in the first, but Muzzin’s soft goal with just 32 seconds left in the period tied it at 1. His spinning shot from the left boards skipped in between Darling’s pads.The Blackhawks responded in the second.Keith’s power-play goal on a knee-high drive through a screen from the top of the slot made it 2-1 at 1:37. Moments after Patrick Sharp’s shot glanced off the crossbar, Hjalmarsson pounced on a failed clearing attempt for the Kings and ripped a rising shot past Quick’s glove at 2:41 for his 100th NHL point.
”They got up the two goals in the second period, it’s tough coming back,” Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter said.
Darling came up with a couple of tough saves to help Chicago preserve its momentum, including a point-blank stop on Drew Doughty with about 5 minutes left in the second.Hossa put it away with his 22nd goal with 6:54 left in the third. He ripped a rising shot past Quick’s glove side from the left circle.
NOTES—Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said star F Patrick Kane is making ”excellent progress” as he rehabs from surgery for a broken collarbone. Kane, who has resumed skating on his own, has 27 goals and 64 points in 61 games. … Blackhawks Fs Daniel Carcillo and Joakim Nordstrom sat out with upper-body injuries. … Kings F Jarret Stoll (upper body) missed his ninth game. … Apollo 13 commander James Lovell was one of the three U.S. military veterans on the ice for the national anthem.