Blackhawks, Kings renew rivalry in new eras

CHICAGO — The first victory in the Chicago Blackhawks‘ Jeremy Colliton era was a while in coming.

But after a 1-0 victory on Wednesday snapped Chicago’s eight-game losing streak and gave Colliton his first NHL coaching victory, the Blackhawks will attempt to string two victories together on Friday against the Los Angeles Kings on Friday.

Like the Blackhawks (7-8-4), the Kings have struggled to start the season and, like Chicago, have fired a head coach. So now, two teams who helped dominate the NHL’s Western Conference only a few years back will attempt to pick up a win on Friday to try to move away from a forgettable stretch of hockey.

For Colliton, finding a way to a way to win on Wednesday against the St. Louis Blues was a step in the right direction.

“Happy for the guys to get rewarded,” Colliton told reporters after the victory, according to the team’s official website. “It’s not a lot of fun to see (the losses) add up, so very happy for the group. They battled really hard.”

Brent Seabrook provided the lone goal for Chicago, which is 1-2-1 under Colliton, who took over after Joel Quenneville was fired. Corey Crawford made 28 saves and registered his first shutout since November 2017.

For Crawford, who returned earlier this season after not playing since December with a concussion, Chicago’s ability to return to the win column was a sign that a team not accustomed to losing is starting to find some confidence as they adjust to Colliton’s style in moving the Blackhawks forward.

“It was good. We’ve been waiting a while (we) kind of forgot what it was like to win there for a bit,” Crawford told reporters. “I thought our guys played really well (Wednesday), everyone played together. We didn’t make that many mistakes.”

For the Kings, regaining the winning feeling has been a goal as well. Los Angeles enters Friday’s game having lost three straight. The Kings have managed just two goals in the three losses, the latest of which came in a 5-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.

As the losses have mounted this season, the frustration has only built to a more fevered pitch as evidenced by the Kings’ performance in the last three games.

“This is the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever had to deal with in my hockey career, that all of us have had to deal with in our hockey career,” defenseman Drew Doughty said Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles Times. “You want to put a finger on it and you want to know exactly why this is happening but it’s hard to figure out. It has to come from within. We can’t be waiting for guys to make it happen. We can’t all be looking at Kopi for him to take the reins and take it over. We all need to individually pick it up ourselves and one by one we need to go out there and do exactly what we’re supposed to do and not wait for other guys to do it for us.

“We’ve got to take the bull by the horns and do it ourselves. And that’s the biggest problem I see with our team right now.”