LOS ANGELES On the 12th day of a hockey road trip, it can be hard to dredge up the energy and the performance, offensively andor defensively, necessary to end it on a positive note.
But the Chicago Blackhawks found a way to do it. And they finished their lengthy excursion with one of their best defensive outings of the trip.
Jonathan Toews scored the game-winning goal in the second period and Corey Crawford stopped 26 of 27 shots as the Blackhawks beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 at Staples Center on Saturday night. It was the second victory in as many nights for the Blackhawks, who went 3-3-0 on their annual circus trip.
And for the most part, the Blackhawks did it with the part of their game that eluded them midway through the trip: defense. Jarret Stoll scored the Kings lone goal on a defensive lapse; but otherwise the Blackhawks were stoic.
The game that got us back on track was in San Jose; losing 1-0, playing the perfect road game and getting beat, coach Joel Quenneville said. We talked about being consistent in that type of effort and we got rewarded last two nights.
And the last line of defense, Crawford, did his part, too. The goaltender had arguably his best game of this trip, nullifying several Kings shooting flurries for his 11th victory of the season.
I havent been getting the results Ive wanted; I feel like I need to give a little bit more, Crawford said. That was another good game from us. The guys were coming back, breaking up plays, just overall a good game. It was another good game defensively, too.
On the other side, the Blackhawks got just enough offense. Andrew Brunettes wrap-around gave them the early lead. Toews was in the right place when a Duncan Keith shot ricocheted off the back boards and right to him for the tap-in.
We knew it was going to be a tight one, Toews said. Its fun to win those tight ones, especially at the end of this road trip. We didnt start this trip the way we wanted to but we finished a lot better.
The middle of this trip was forgettable but the Blackhawks erased a lot of that bad taste with their work in the California portion of it. They ironed out some defensive issues, got back to playing their team game and salvaged the trip. Now they head home, where theyve played brilliant in the early going.
It was a long road trip and I think we know were excited to go home now, said Keith, who had two assists. I think were happy with the way we played the last three games. It was tough not to get a point in San Jose, but sometimes thats the way it goes. Its nice to finish a long road trip with a couple of wins. Well use that momentum to come home here.
Daniel Carcillo was a healthy scratch for the first time this season. Quenneville said he wanted to get John Scott in as a forward against the Kings. Scott had some spirited fights with Kings right wing Kevin Westgarth last season. The two did not fight on Saturday night.
Toews was the NHLs No. 1 star of Friday night for his career-best, five-point outing (two goals, three assists) against the Anaheim Ducks. Patrick Sharp was the leagues No. 2 star for that night after he tallied his second career hat trick.