Blackhawks rout Kings in season opener
LOS ANGELES — The Kings owned the moments before the drop of the puck on the 2013 season as they received their Stanley Cup championship rings and watched as a banner was raised to the rafters of the Staples Center commemorating their '12 title.
The Blackhawks owned pretty much every moment thereafter as they throttled the Kings 5-2 Saturday in front of an initially jubilant and then stunned crowd of 18,545.
Marian Hossa had two goals and an assist, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane each had a goal and an assist and Michael Frolik also scored as the Hawks spoiled the Kings' party.
It was Kane's early goal with the Hawks holding a two-man advantage that helped ease some concerns from last season, including an anemic power play and some inconsistent play from goaltender Corey Crawford. When Kane stepped into a one-timer after a pass from Hossa and rifled it past Jonathan Quick from a low angle, the Hawks had their first power-play goal and Crawford had a lead with which he could work. Not long after, the Hawks had a three-goal cushion on scores by Hossa and Frolik and ended the first period in complete control.
"That's a huge part of the game when you get a five-on-three early," Kane said. "We had a couple of chances when we could have scored but it didn't work in our favor, and then (we had) nice motion and got a goal."
It was a huge boost to a power-play unit that finished tied for 25th last season with a 15.2 percent success rate.
"We have to get a little chemistry and move it around a little bit," Kane said. "It's a good start. Hopefully, it will come better than last year. With the focus we have on it this year and how important it's going to be, it's definitely something we need to improve, and I think we will throughout the year."
When Toews scored early in the second to stake Crawford to a four-goal lead, the goalie took advantage. He allowed only scores to Rob Scuderi when screened and to Jordan Nolan while he was down on the ice after a scramble.
"That's the best start you can ask for, for a first game like that," Crawford said. "All around everyone battled hard and it was just a solid game. I was seeing the puck really well and was focused. On scrambles I felt like I was following the puck well and moving side to side."
The Hawks also got off to a nice start on the penalty kill — another problematic area in '11-12 — by blanking the Kings on all five of their opportunities with a man advantage.
"All areas of our game were pretty solid," coach Joel Quenneville said. "And our special teams were definitely better than we saw last year."
Added Kane: "You have to be happy with the way everyone played. That's probably the perfect game teamwise to start the year."