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Hawks put forth a complete effort

LOS ANGELES -- Just when the Chicago Blackhawks should be worn out, they come up with one of their best performances in defeating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 on Saturday.

The "Circus Trip" finale came down to a team effort, one that Joel Quenneville liked as much as any.

“That was probably our best team game as far as finding ways to get through it and guys sticking together,” he said after the dramatic victory.

There was Patrick Kane back-checking to tie up a shot attempt, which he was rewarded for, as he turned it into a two-on-one the other way, resulting in a Patrick Sharp goal. Then there was John Scott, back in the lineup for an ailing Fernando Pisani, giving a lift to his team by pummeling Kevin
Westgarth, who may not have known what he was getting into, when he asked Scott to fight.

Like the day before in Anaheim where they were reunited, the Hawks' top four defensemen came to play as well. Take away late five-on-three and five-on-four power plays for the Kings, and they had 18 shots on goal. As is, they finished with 22. And then there was Corey Crawford, playing his way into the picture for more ice time.

"The whole team has played well,” Duncan Keith said. “Corey has played great and made some really big saves too. We like the way we finished the road trip off, for sure.”

Crawford made a huge difference, especially during a late flurry of power play time by the Kings.

“Defense was excellent,” Crawford said. “They’ve been really good the last couple of weeks. They make my game so much easier, taking away passing lanes and pushing them to the outside. That makes a huge difference for me.”

And there wasn’t a Hawk player in the dressing room that didn’t offer praise for their young netminder -- most without being asked.

“When they did get their shots through, Crawford made some great saves,” Sharp said. “He’s real solid in there and square to the shooter. He makes it look like he’s making easy saves. I think that’s the sign of a good goalie. He had a great weekend.”

And the Hawks had a great trip, though there was that one clunker in Calgary. It’s long forgotten after this weekend.

“It was a good trip overall,” Kane said of the 4-2 record. “It’s pretty good for us to get eight points altogether. A trip this long is sometimes tough to keep going strong and stay upbeat. Overall we have to be happy with this trip.”

Is it possible the Hawks and their fans will look back at Thanksgiving as the turning point of the season? Where the positive talk turned into results?

“I think so,” Keith said. “It was a long road trip. More than anything we bonded as a team. Being on a long road trip can do that. We got contributions from everyone.”

The final word on the trip came from Quenneville. When asked where the team stood now as opposed to before the circus came to down, he didn’t hesitate.

“Way better than we were going into it,” Quenneville said. “When we play with an attitude like we did in 5 out of the 6 games, we’ll find a way to get points.”