Corey Crawford notched his 20th career shutout as the Chicago Blackhawks buried the road-weary Los Angeles Kings on Sunday in the former’s most complete game this season
Inspired by the gold-plated pregame ceremony honoring Marian Hossa and his 500th NHL goal, the Chicago Blackhawks conjured some real team magic Sunday night to overpower the Kings 3-0 at United Center.
Captain Jonathan Toews finally scored his first goal, Artem Anisimov extended his point streak to seven games and Corey Crawford notched his 20th career shutout to lead the Blackhawks to their third win in four games.
‘Hawks grab early lead and keep it
Breaking a trend of chasing the game, Chicago scored first on Toews’ early powerplay blast from the right point that blew by goalie Peter Budaj, blinded by Richard Panik’s wraith-like moving screen. Toews was sprung on a nifty crossing maneuver at the blueline by Nick Schmaltz and Brian Campbell, who each picked up an assist.
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Blending a scary potion of speed, power and skill, the newly hatched line of Hossa, Anisimov and Artemi Panarin generated dangerous chances throughout the game.
In the play of the game, the HAP line extended Chicago’s lead to 2-0 in the second period when Anisimov scored his sixth goal on a crazy-good double-clutch shot at the net after a pretty give-and-go by Panarin and Hossa on the right boards.
Blackhawks fans saw their revamped blue line play its best game of the season with no penalties, few giveaways and some timely plays to erase Kings scoring opportunities. A healthy scratch against the Flames, Michal Kempny has found some chemistry alongside ‘Czech-mate’ Michal Rozsival and played a strong game start to finish.
In a bizarre play late in the game where Campbell crashed into Crawford on Kyle Clifford’s shot, Duncan Keith jumped on the loose puck to prevent any second chance.
Stopping all 32 Kings shots on goal, Crawford played another brilliant game to claim his first shutout of the season.
Special teams key the victory
Although the powerplay converted only 2 of 7 chances, two powerplay goals were enough to overpower the Kings, who appeared listless after a tough 1-0 loss the previous night in St Louis. In a play touched by the supernatural, the ‘Hawks scored on their last powerplay late in the game when Toews’ shot pinballed off the post and then the skate of referee Steve Kozari straight to Hossa, who tapped it into an empty net.
The PK unit appears to be turning the corner, killing both penalties last night and 8 of 9 chances stretching back to the Calgary game. Sure, the team’s overall kill rate of 53 percent is a troubling stat, but ‘Hawks fans can see the trend is definitely on a sharp curve upward.
For those who keep track of such things, the Blackhawks won the faceoff battle again last night, 51-49 percent.