Kings' party quickly ended by Blackhawks' strong performance

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Kings' party quickly ended by Blackhawks' strong performance

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.

Jonathan Toews sets up game-winner as Team Canada wins World Cup

Jonathan Toews sets up game-winner as Team Canada wins World Cup

Jonathan Toews set up the game-winning goal to Brad Marchand as Team Canada rallied back to beat Europe, 2-1, to complete the two-game sweep in the final at the World Cup of Hockey.

After Patrice Bergeron tied the game with a tip-in on the power play late in the third period, Drew Doughty was sent to the box for tripping, giving Europe a power play for a chance to respond.

But midway through the man advantage, the Blackhawks captain retrieved the puck and carried it into Europe territory before dropping it off to Marchand, who snapped home the shorthanded game-winner with 43 seconds remaining in regulation.

It was the second goal in a span of 2:09, helping Canada capture their second straight World Cup title (2004).

Sidney Crosby was named MVP of the tournament after scoring four goals and seven assists in six games. 

Toews was fourth among all players in the tournament with five points (three goals and two assists).

Erik Gustafsson knows landing roster spot with Blackhawks won’t be easy

Erik Gustafsson knows landing roster spot with Blackhawks won’t be easy

Erik Gustafsson looked around the Blackhawks’ room at where fellow defensemen stalls would probably be as the season approached.

“You have Brian (Campbell) back, (Michal) Kempny here, obviously and all the other guys,” Gustafsson said. “It’s going to be tough, but I like it.”

The Blackhawks’ biggest Achilles heel last season was defense, especially after Trevor Daley was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins. That opened the door for young players, including Gustafsson, to get bigger opportunities. This year the defense should be stronger with Campbell’s return. So for guys like Gustafsson, cracking this lineup just got that much tougher.

During the summer, assistant coach Mike Kitchen talked potential pairings as Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson, Campbell-Brent Seabrook, Kempny-Trevor van Riemsdyk. As of now, the team is expecting Keith to be ready for the season opener. Keith has been participating in a practice a day but whether or not he plays in any preseason games is uncertain right now.

If it starts out that way, Gustafsson would be on the outside looking in.

But first things first: Gustafsson is focused on building off experience gained last season — he played 41 games, recording 14 assists — and cleaning up a few errors committed in training camp practices.

“You know all the guys on the team, you know how they want to play over here and in the NHL. Just go out and show them. I didn’t do that [Saturday] but this was the first game,” Gustafsson said. “I felt good with the puck but I have to play more defense in my own zone. Just a couple of small things I have to be better.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Nothing comes easy when you’re trying to make an NHL roster but it got that much tougher for a young defenseman with the Blackhawks this season. Hey, that’s the way it is, and players know it.

“Of course it’ll be tougher,” Gustafsson said. “It won’t be easy to take a spot. You just have to go out there, do your best and see what happens.”

BRIEFLY

- Patrick Kane could play in the Blackhawks’ game against St. Louis on Saturday. Assistant coach Kevin Dineen said, “don’t be surprised to see 88 politicking to get in the lineup. Pretty good chance we’ll see him on Saturday."

- The Blackhawks were off on Thursday. Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov, Marcus Kruger and Hjalmarsson were expected to join the team at Friday’s practice

- Alexandre Fortin, who signed a three-year contract on Sunday, played 12 1/2 minutes in Wednesday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. That included about two minutes of power-play time. Dineen wouldn’t mind seeing Fortin in another game. “He showed himself well all camp and I think [Wednesday] we saw some good spurts out there, and we’ll find that consistency in a young player as we move forward.”