Kings lose to Blackhawks, prepare for Bruins

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Staples Ice-2Of all the playoff teams the Los Angeles Kings faced last spring, the Chicago Blackhawks gave them the toughest series. With two over time games, one a loss and then  the  second a seventh game win, the Blackhawks proved to be the toughest opponents the Kings faced before taking on the New York Rangers. Both teams will tell you last season’s playoffs don’t matter anymore, but don’t believe it. The Blackhawks were just a goal away from going to the Final. And they are looking to prove that they are a better team this year.

It’s no secret a rivalry has built up between these two teams. In the last post season the Kings won the Western Conference Finals in seven games and the year before that Chicago won the conference finals over the Kings. You can bet that any time these two teams meet there is that extra element to the game.

L.A. went into Sunday’s game with a two-day rest, while the Blackhawks came from playing and beating the Anaheim Ducks the night before. In fact, Chicago had a great road trip, winning five of their six games on this trip through the Western Conference.

“Our team game is exactly what we’re working for,” Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville after the game.
“Our team game is exactly what we’re working for,” Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville after the game.

The Kings haven’t been as consistent as they want to be and on some nights barely look like a championship team. Sunday Night was the case. The Blackhawks jumped out to a first period lead in under two minutes with a goal from Daniel Cercillo and then scored their second goal with less than three minutes left in the period when Brad got the net from 20 feet out.

In terms of skating, the second period was L.A.’s best of the night and they were able to get Jordan Nolan in position for a tip-in from 13 feet. But Brad Richards was able to give Chicago another two-point lead less than two minutes later from 12 feet out.

The third period started with Chicago ahead, 3-1, and they controlled the puck for most of the 20 minutes. Getting desperate for a score, Kings coach Darryl Sutter replaced goalie Jonathan Quick with another offensive player, but it backfired when Brandon Saad scored an empty net goal with just over a minute to go.

The game ended 4-1, for the Chicago Blackhawks.

For most of the night the Kings didn’t look their best. After the game Anze Kopitar said they just didn’t seem prepared for Chicago. He’s the Kings’ leading scorer, but has been struggling so far this season. When he gets back to his usual game the Kings will get much better, or so the fans are hoping.

A Chicago shift
A Chicago shift

Alec Martinez sat out the game, due to an a finger injury that required surgery.

The big stat of the night has to be giveaways. The Blackhawks had six and the Kings had 14. The other glaring stat: the Kings had 19 penalty minutes in the third period.

Tonight the Kings welcome the Boston Bruins to Staples Center. They are 14-10-1 so far and are coming off a tough three-game home stand, in which they lost two of three. Boston will be looking to regroup on this road trip and nothing gets that started better than a win against the reigning champions.

 (All photos by Claudia Gestro)