LOS ANGELES -- A night after all hell broke loose for the Chicago Blackhawks in Anaheim, they put it all behind them and turned in one of those 60-minute games they’ve been looking for. There were no new injuries, no questionable referee calls, and no goals given up in the 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings.
“When we play puck possession, when we keep the puck, we’re going to keep getting chances, the goals will come,” Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “We were good enough to keep them off the score sheet and found a way to close off a victory here.”
It was a dominating display for the Hawks -- something they certainly needed.
Before the game general manager Stan Bowman talked about his team getting back to the style of play that made them so successful through most of the first five months of the season. They did just that with a puck possession game that tilted the shot sheet in their favor 37-17. Even Hawks goalie Antti Niemi said it was one of the easier shutouts he’s earned.
After everything that has happened recently, including a three-game losing streak and losing three defensemen to injury, the Hawks took over the top spot in the Western Conference via a tiebreaker with San Jose, who lost on Thursday.
“We got back to where we want to be,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “I know we got a lot of hockey left but that should be our objective and motivation, to try and stay on top.”
By all accounts, the emergency use of Dustin Byfuglien on defense has been a raving success. Joel Quenneville was effusive in his praise: “He was great,” Quenneville said. “This is new to me to watch him in back to back games, getting exposure to playing all parts of the defensive zone … He was big, strong, effective. A threat offensively, patient defensively. Very happy with his game. Nice little diamond in the rough, we found, for me, anyway.”
Tomas Kopecky scored twice and has six goals on the season. Four have come in two games.
Despite the win, the Hawks had one of their worst nights in the faceoff circle, winning just 39 percent of their draws.