CHICAGO, IL – The Kings were fueled by their fast start Saturday in Ottawa; they were dismantled by Chicago’s fast start tonight.
The Chicago Blackhawks had the Kings’ on their heels from start to finish, as they looked distressed and out-of-sync in their final stop on their four-game road trip.
This was the Kings’ fourth game in six nights on the road; and skating against the NHL’s best team didn’t make tonight’s task any easier.
The Kings’ superb defense in the first periods of contests hit a halt tonight, as Chicago poured on three goals in the first 20 minutes.
Prior to tonight, the Kings hadn’t allowed a single first period goal in their last 18 games – dating back to November 2 against the Nashville Predators.
Chicago’s three goals in the first 20 minutes came in all fashions possible. Marian Hossa struck first for the Blackhawks with a short-handed tally, Kris Versteeg added another goal during an even-strength situation, and Patrick Sharp buried Chicago’s third and final goal on the power play.
That would be all of the scoring on Chicago’s end, but the Kings’ would struggle to find any sustained pressure, odd-man rushes, or scoring chances as Chicago hounded the Kings every time they got a stick on the puck – recording 14 takeaways.
Ben Scrivens, who hadn’t played in the Kings previous five games, got the call in the crease tonight. He didn’t get much help; defensively or offensively from the roster, and played a very solid game.
Scrivens faced 40 shots, making 37 saves to keep the Kings within reach of a comeback effort.
Alec Martinez finally got the Kings on the board in the final minutes, but it was too little too late. Martinez provided some hope, snapping home a shot from the point that beat Antti Raanta with 3:54 remaining in the game to make it 3-1.
This was Martinez’s second goal of the season, and Matt Greene, who hadn’t played in the last 18 games because of injury, recorded his second assist of the season on the Kings’ lone goal.
The Kings will return home to STAPLES Center for a four-game homestand that begins Tuesday night when the Edmonton Oilers make their final visit to Los Angeles this season.
The Kings went 3-1-0 on their road-trip, bagging six of a possible eight points that were available for the taking – and sweeping all three Eastern Canada clubs.
With a 22-8-4 record, the Kings have 48 points to their name and currently sit at third-place in the Western Conference.