Game 37 (18-14-5)
CHICAGO – They didn’t necessarily need the win but it certainly would have done wonders considering the Los Angeles Kings have lost seven straight meetings against the Blackhawks – that is until tonight as the Kings get out of the Windy City with a rare win.
With the victory, Los Angeles is now 3-0-1 under new head coach Darryl Sutter and 4-0-1 in their last five overall. In addition, for the time being, the Kings are now tied with San Jose for 1st in the Pacific. San Jose, however, has just gotten underway with the Canucks tonight so suffice to say, the Kings are hoping for a Vancouver win. It may not seem right but that’s just the way it is.
Since Sutter’s takeover, Los Angeles’ shot mentality has been stronger, they’ve been more disciplined and some of the underachieving players have found a groove and have since picked up their respective games. Tonight was no exception.
The Kings found themselves in the sin bin twice in the opening period. Not bad. What’s even better is how organized the Kings looked while on the penalty-kill not only in the first but in the game overall. It’s fair to say that Los Angeles’ recent play is certainly a breath of fresh air, especially for fans who have been figuratively (and maybe even literally) pulling out their hair watching their team drag themselves around the ice in recent weeks.
Trent Hunter’s second of the year (which proved to be the winner) may not have been a highlight-reel goal but he worked hard to fight in front of the year to pick up the marker. A well-earned goal for sure. Early in the third, it was Jarret Stoll who scored just his fourth to add some insurance.
From there, Jonathan Quick did the rest. It seems as though when Quick plays not quite a great game the previous outing, he steps up his game in his next opportunity. Tonight was no exception as he stymied the offensively-daunting Blackhawks from start to finish. The 40-point man, Marian Hossa, couldn’t solve him, neither could Patrick Sharp, who has had personal success against the Kings over the last couple of seasons. Same thing can be said for Jonathan Toews this season. Nonetheless, Quick had Chicago’s number on this night, stopping all 38 shots he faced to earn his fifth shutout of the season and the 19th of his career. Tonight was also the first time the Hawks have been shutout since November 23 when they lost 1-0 to San Jose.
Despite the win, the Kings won’t be able to rest much as they travel to Winnipeg to take on the Jets tomorrow night, which will mark the Kings’ first trip to the ‘Peg since April 1996.
Photo: Courtesy of Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images