Kings hold off Blackhawks for 3-1 win
CHICAGO (AP) The Los Angeles Kings have owned the third period this season. The first period has been a bit of an adventure, but it’s coming around.
”Arguably one of the best periods we’ve played this year, that first period,” captain Anze Kopitar said.
Los Angeles (32-22-5) has outscored opponents 73-41 in the third this season. The Kings had to scramble in the final period against the Blackhawks, but Jonathan Quick made 12 of his 27 saves in the third to help close out the Kings’ second straight win since a three-game slide.
Los Angeles also put together a strong start in Saturday’s 4-2 victory at Buffalo.
”I think the last two games, the way we started the hockey games has been the difference,” coach John Stevens said.
Dion Phaneuf added his second goal in three games since joining Los Angeles in a trade with Ottawa, helping the Kings improve to 3-3 on their seven-game trip as they fight for playoff positioning in the Western Conference.
Last-place Chicago looked awful for most of the night during its ninth loss in 10 games. Anton Forsberg made 29 stops for the Blackhawks (25-27-8), and Patrick Sharp snapped an 11-game scoring drought with his seventh goal of the season.
”It was a tough, tough start,” coach Joel Quenneville said. ”There’s a certain standard to competing and starting the game and you watch in the first 20 minutes every race, every puck battle, every single play we were behind it. They won the period in every category.”
It was the first game at the United Center since the Blackhawks banned four fans from their home games for directing a racist taunt toward Washington’s Devante Smith-Pelly. The team also apologized to the forward and the Capitals.
Smith-Pelly was sitting in the penalty box during the third period of Saturday night’s 7-1 loss to Chicago when the fans yelled ”basketball, basketball, basketball” toward the winger, who is black. An off-ice official sitting next to Smith-Pelly notified security and the fans were promptly ejected.
”Totally unacceptable in our game, in any sport and in society today,” Quenneville said.
The Kings grabbed control right at the start, outshooting the Blackhawks 15-4 in the first. A streaking Mitchell drove a slap shot from the high slot by a screened Forsberg at 8:31, and Andreoff made it 2-0 when he tipped in Jonny Brodzinski’s shot with 3:23 left in the period.
With Chicago’s Lance Bouma in the penalty box for interference, Phaneuf beat Forsberg with another big slap shot at 4:04 of the second. The big defenseman also scored in his debut with Los Angeles on Thursday.
”We weren’t playing with a whole lot of speed or energy or compete in our game and when you do that against a good team like the Kings, that’s going to happen,” Sharp said.
Sharp’s rebound goal got Chicago on the board 1:42 into the third, and the Blackhawks spent much of the final period in the Kings zone. Quick denied Brandon Saad on a prime short-handed chance about three minutes in, and also stopped Artem Anisimov on a power-play opportunity right in front.
NOTES: The Blackhawks traded D Michal Kempny to Washington for a conditional third-round pick in the 2018 draft. The Capitals will part with the higher selection between their own third-rounder and the Toronto pick they acquired from New Jersey as part of the Marcus Johansson trade. … The Kings also beat Chicago 3-1 on Dec. 3. The teams close out their season series March 3 in Los Angeles. … Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane skated in his 800th NHL game.
Kings: Visit the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night.
Blackhawks: Host the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap
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