The Kings’ recent struggles at Chicago’s United Center continue to haunt.
It’s been a tough setting for the Kings over the past two years, as they now fall to 1-5-1 in Chicago’s home building since February 17, 2013.
Although Martin Jones turned in a stunning performance in the crease tonight, and the Kings controlled Chicago physically, the Blackhawks’ speed and puck control proved to be too much as the Kings fell 1-0.
The first period saw the Kings come out physically dominant, in an effort to slow down a fast and fluent Blackhawks club.
Chicago would score the first and only goal of the contest 7:05 minutes into play as Brandon Saad beat Martin Jones high to the right corner.
Matt Greene, who had a chance to intercept Bryan Bickell’s pass to Saad, couldn’t fully control the puck. Saad pounced on Greene’s botched effort, sending home the night’s eventual game-winning tally.
The Kings played their best hockey of the night in the second period, out-shooting Chicago 15-11, but couldn’t find a way to put a puck past rookie goaltender Antti Raanta.
Dustin Brown was awarded a penalty shot late in the second period after being hooked on a breakaway attempt by Brent Seabrook.
Brown tried to handcuff Raanta with a wrister to the blocker-side, but was denied.
The Kings couldn’t seem to find their feet in the third period, spending most of the final 20 minutes in their own zone. The Kings recorded a lowly five shots in the final frame, and only remained in striking distance because of a number of miraculous saves from Martin Jones.
Coming into tonight’s contest, Chicago was 20-0-3 when entering the third period with a lead. They’ve now upped that mark to 21-0-3.
Martin Jones made 29 saves tonight, but recorded his second straight loss. Jones is now 8-2-0 with a .955 SV% and a 1.29 GAA.
The Kings have now lost three straight games – a season high.
Antti Raanta is only the second goaltender to shutout the Kings this season. Semyon Varlamov was the only netminder to accomplish that feat prior to tonight, when he kept the Kings scoreless at STAPLES Center on November 23.
The Kings, now with a 25-11-4 record which is good for 54 points, sit at fifth-place in the Western Conference.
The Kings travel to Dallas, Texas tonight for a date with the Stars tomorrow at the American Airlines Center. This will be the third and final meeting with the Dallas Stars this season, and the first one away from STAPLES Center.
Both clubs have swapped 5-2 victories in their first two meetings; the Kings winning on October 19, and the Stars winning on December 23.