Jonathan Quick was perfect in the nets, with a bit of help from his Los Angeles Kings teammates.
Quick made 38 saves to earn his NHL-leading fifth shutout, and Trent Hunter and Jarret Stoll scored to lead the Kings past the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 on Wednesday night.
Quick was solid in earning his 19th NHL shutout, but he wasn’t heavily tested until the third period. The Blackhawks managed few prime scoring chances in the first two frames.
”It took four lines, six `D’ and a goalie,” Quick said. ”I thought we were outplaying them the first two periods.
”We were getting the better of them, but you know it’s a matter of time before they get that pressure on you. It’s a talented group over there. We were fortunate to weather the storm and get out with two points.”
When the Blackhawks did get their attack going – outshooting the Kings 18-10 in the third period – Quick was in position to turn them away.
”Unbelievable,” Hunter said. ”Quickie’s done that for us all year. Look at the way he played. He’s just a wall in there.”
The Kings improved to 5-1-1 in their last seven and 3-0-1 under coach Darryl Sutter, who took over behind the Los Angeles bench last week. Sutter spent his eight-year NHL playing career with the Blackhawks, and began his NHL coaching career with Chicago in 1992.
Los Angeles has struggled offensively this season, and for the 15th time in 16 games, scored two goals or fewer in regulation. On Wednesday, however, the Kings’ fourth line of Hunter, Kyle Clifford and Colin Fraser generated an offensive buzz. Hunter and Clifford both had three shots.
Sutter decided to play Hunter, who scored just his second goal this season, following the Kings’ morning skate.
”Our fourth line did really a good job,” Sutter said. ”As it went on, we were able to roll four lines.”
The Blackhawks, who lead the NHL with 50 points, where shut out for the fourth time this season. Chicago is 9-2-1 in its last 12 and 13-3-3 at home.
Corey Crawford stopped 36 shots and was exceptional in his third straight start following a string of six consecutive starts by backup Ray Emery. Crawford made seven close-in saves in the second period – including a stop on Mike Richards’ penalty shot – when the Kings dominated.
”(Quick) played awesome, but I thought Crow (Crawford) did, too,” Chicago forward Patrick Kane said. ”It was really a goalie duel out there, a lot of chances both ways. Both goalies played awesome.”
The Kings killed all four power plays, and haven’t allowed a goal in their past 20 short-handed situations.
”We didn’t play a bad game, but that team wanted it,” Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. ”They had that desire out there. We just didn’t match that.”
The Blackhawks were 10-0-1 against Kings in the teams’ previous 11 meetings, including a 2-1 win at Los Angeles in November. But Kane said the Kings also had more jump in even-strength situations on Wednesday.
”It seemed like they worked a little bit harder and they maybe didn’t give up as much offensively for us,” Kane said. ”I think that team has got a lot of good players over there, a lot of skill. They should be competing with teams like us.”
The Kings wasted a four-minute advantage early in the first period after Patrick Sharp was sent off for four minutes for high-sticking. Los Angeles managed just three shots during the power play.
Hunter scored the only goal of the second, with 7:53 left, to give Los Angeles a 1-0 lead. Crawford stopped a point-blank attempt by Kyle Clifford, then landed on his stomach. Hunter lofted in the rebound.
Crawford kept it at 1-0 with a glove save on Richards’ backhand attempt on the penalty shot with 3:22 left in the second. Richards was awarded the attempt after he slipped past forward Jonathan Toews, who had lost his stick, and broke in alone. Toews caught Richards, but pushed him down from behind.
Stoll made it 2-0 at 1:16 of the third.
Quick made his toughest saves in the third. He stopped Michael Frolik’s shot from the crease, and a rebound by Toews with nine minutes left. Just seconds later, Quick smothered a chance from a scrum in the crease.
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville felt neither Kings goal should have counted because of Los Angeles ”infractions” on the plays.
Quenneville claimed there was goalie interference on Hunter’s goal, and added that a Kings player committed a slew foot during Stoll’s tally.
”I thought both their goals should have been whistled down,” Quenneville said. ”The refereeing was tough to watch, but we still had a lot of chances at the other end.”
NOTES: Los Angeles ended a six-game losing streak in Chicago, dating to December 2007. … The Kings placed LW Simon Gagne on the injured list because of an undisclosed upper body injury. He was hurt against Phoenix on Monday. . Blackhawks LW Dan Carcillo sat out a sixth game with an upper body injury. Chicago C Marcus Kruger (upper body) also missed the game. Kruger had returned on Monday, following a one-game absence, after taking a hit to the head from Pittsburgh’s Deryk Engelland last week.