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.

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Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks return home to face Coyotes tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks return home to face Coyotes tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Arizona Coyotes tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Schmaltz-Toews-Panik.

There might not be a hotter line in hockey right now than the Blackhawks' trio of Nick Schmaltz, Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik. They combined for five goals and five assists — highlighted by a hat trick and five-point effort from Toews — in Tuesday's 5-3 win over Minnesota, and were hot before that. Toews has 21 points in his last 12 games. Schmaltz has seven points in his last six, while Panik has nine points in his past six. Is Joel Quenneville simply riding the hot hand or could this be a line that sticks together for a while even when they inevitably cool off?

2. Can power play get going again?

The Blackhawks are 0-for-8 on the power play in their last three games after converting on six of their previous 14 attempts. They went 2-for-4 during their last meeting, which resulted in a 4-3 victory. Arizona has allowed at least a power play goal in six of their last 10 games, including three of their last four, and owns a bottom-five penalty kill unit at 77.1 percent. If that area gets going for the Blackhawks, look out. 

3. Marian Hossa's recent success vs. Arizona.

Hossa has six goals and three assists in his last six games against the Coyotes dating back to 2014-15, recording at least a point in each of those games, and helping lead the Blackhawks to a 5-0-1 record. He's scored a goal in each of those last three, and will look to continue his success against an Arizona team whose 49 points ranked second-to-last in the NHL.

4. Martin Hanzal heating up as trade deadline nears.

The 30-year-old center has five goals in his last six contests, and will be a hot commodity over the next week as the March 1 trade deadline approaches. He could be an option for the Blackhawks if they want to bolster their center depth, but it's looking more and more unlikely as the asking price will be high and there will be many bidders. Expect a tweak more than a large addition.

5. Artemi Panarin quietly heating up.

Due to the emergence of Schmaltz-Toews-Panik that has been earning all the attention, Panarin is flying under the radar as of late. He has nine points in his last eight games that's gotten lost in the shuffle, and is tied for 16th in the league in scoring. He's only three points away from re-entering the top-10. And there's a chance he could have a big night. In five career games against Arizona, the 25-year-old Russian winger has two goals and six assists. That's an average of 1.60 points per game.

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