LOS ANGELES The Blackhawks sat in their locker room while the Los Angeles Kings reveled in Stanley Cup banner-raising ceremony in front of a raucous Staples Center crowd.
A few minutes later, the Blackhawks strong start quieted that celebration quick.
Patrick Kane scored the first goal of the NHL season on a 5-on-3 power play, and the Blackhawks jumped on the defending-champion Kings early en route to a 5-2 victory at Staples Center. It was a stellar start for the Blackhawks, both for this season and in this game, as they raced out to a 3-0 lead against a flat-looking Kings team and never looked back.
But with the victory came a loss: Daniel Carcillo suffered a lower-body injury and coach Joel Quenneville said afterward that, Dannys going to miss some time here. On replays, Carcillo was tangled up with Kings defenseman Drew Doughty and Carcillos right knee looked to get pinned along the boards. He skated off under his own power but soon went to the locker room.
While the Blackhawks depth will get tested quickly, it was an otherwise strong first game for them. Marian Hossa scored twice; Michael Frolik and Jonathan Toews, who missed Fridays practice with the flu, also scored for the Blackhawks. Corey Crawford stopped 19 of 21 for his first victory of the season.
Several of the Blackhawks have obviously been through that banner-raising ceremony. They know how joyous, yet distracting, it could be. So jumping out early, if possible, was key.
We went through it a couple of years ago and I know how it feels; you get caught up in the moment and all of a sudden its 2-0 (opponent). We tried to jump on them early and it worked, Hossa said.
Im sure its easy to get caught up in that. But we werent going to take that for granted and assume they were going to start out flat. We wanted to make sure we were playing our team game right off the bat, said Toews, who also had an assist in his 18:47 of ice time. If you score, you score. If you dont you keep working for those chances. Thats what we did. We were lucky to get a few early and keep the pressure on them for 60 minutes.
And it started with the power play, which was a source of much frustration, and not a lot of goals, last season. Kane smacked one past Jonathan Quick with eight seconds left on the 5 on 3, and the Blackhawks took off from there en route to a 3-0 lead at the end of one.
I just tried to move around and create something. Hossa made a nice pass back. I was thinking about shooting that one earlier but got the chance again and took it, Kane said. We have to be happy with the way everyone played. It was probably a perfect game, team-wise.
Crawford was solid in his season debut, getting screened on one goal and getting knocked down right before the second. Crawford ended last season on a sour note but he said this campaign is not about the last one.
Im done thinking about that. Im just moving on from here, said Crawford, who added he felt good from the start today. I was really focused all night. My eyes didnt move from the puck at all.
The Blackhawks bided their time while the Kings had their final celebratory Cup moment. But they were focused from puck drop, and it paid off.
Scoring first certainly helped, and having a great first period like that, Quenneville said. We did a good job with how we played in that first. We had everyone involved, four lines rotating. Thats how you want to start a game, especially on the road.