LOS ANGELES The Blackhawks special teams came under fire plenty last season, albeit for good reason. The power play couldnt score. The penalty kill couldnt prevent a score. It just wasnt good.
And while one game does not make a turnaround, the Blackhawks nevertheless liked the strides their power play and penalty kill made against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.
The Blackhawks scored on one power play and kept the Kings scoreless on theirs en route to a 5-2 victory over Los Angeles today. Again, its just one game. But compared to last season, this was already better.
Scoring on our first 5-on-3 really boosted our team off the bat, coach Joel Quenneville said. All areas of our game pretty solid today, but special teams were definitely better than we saw last year.
Patrick Kanes goal with eight seconds left on a 5-on-3 was the start to a productive day. The Blackhawks went 0-for-4 on their other opportunities but still had better puck control and movement when they were on it. And on the other side, the Blackhawks stymied all five of the Kings power-play chances. The Kings had just five shots on those power plays combined.
Thats huge for us, Toews said of special teams. Thats going to win or lose some games for us. We have to focus on that. We have to be the hardest workers whether were killing or on the power play. It made a difference for us tonight.
Jonathan Toews missed Fridays practice with the flu. And while he may not have been 100 percent, he was nonetheless ready for Saturdays game. He played 18 minutes and 47 seconds, tops among the forwards, collecting a goal and an assist.
I felt better, but most of all I was just excited to play hockey again, Toews said. The excitement took over and gave me a little more jump.
Brent Seabrook led the Blackhawks in ice time (23:01) and led all players in blocked shots (seven).
Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick is usually stingy, especially against the Blackhawks. So Chicagos five-goal outburst was surprising. Quick gave up five goals only once last season, on April 5 against San Jose.
Brandon Saad, Michal Rozsival and Jamal Mayers were the Blackhawks healthy scratches on Saturday.