Kings topple Blackhawks, net fifth straight win
CHICAGO — Perseverance proved to be the Los Angeles Kings’ ally once again on Sunday.
This time, it cemented a perfect, four-game road trip and a pleasant return home.
Christian Folin snapped a scoreless tie midway through the third period, and goaltender Jonathan Quick shined, helping the Kings to a 3-1 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Los Angeles (17-8-3) earned its fifth consecutive victory.
“We just kind of gutted it out in the third, which, on a trip like this, it’s not the easiest thing to do,” Kings captain Anze Kopitar said. “Because you’re going home and you can almost see that plane taking off already. And, you know, we gutted it out. We knew how important these two points were. We got the job done.”
Folin guided a wrist shot through traffic and past Blackhawks backup goaltender Anton Forsberg at 9:29 of the third period. Dustin Brown and Kopitar assisted on Folin’s second goal of the season, which set off a flurry of goals down the stretch.
“It’s fun when it goes in,” Folin said. “I don’t score too many goals, so I’ll take it.”
Brown and Kopitar sandwiched empty-net goals for the Kings around Jonathan Toews’ tally for the Blackhawks with 1:46 remaining in the game.
Chicago (12-10-5) outshot the Kings 25-24 but struggled on the power play, going 0-for-4. The Blackhawks are 1-for-17 on the power play in the past four games.
“It’s got to be better than that,” Toews said. “It’s got to make the difference in some of these tight games for us.”
Quick, who made 24 saves, faced just three shots on the power play. He has allowed one goal or none in eight of his 22 starts this season.
Teammates grinned after the game while addressing Quick’s brilliance. Familiar or not, it still seems fresh to some Kings.
“It’s unbelievable,” Folin said. “I get surprised every time. You think the puck is going to be in the net, but somehow, it stays out.”
Forsberg started his second game in as many nights for the Blackhawks, who put regular goalie Corey Crawford on injured reserve with a lower-body injury Friday. Forsberg stopped 21 shots Sunday, including a save on a breakaway from Kings forward Marian Gaborik that followed a Patrick Sharp turnover early in the third period.
Chicago expects Crawford to miss at least three games. Coach Joel Quenneville said before the Sunday game that the club plans to evaluate Crawford on the ice in the coming days.
Still, the Blackhawks remained close behind a strong effort from Forsberg, who was in net for a 3-2 shootout loss at Dallas Saturday night.
“Game’s right there for us to maybe play a big third period and finish the week off with a real high note,” Quenneville said. “Turned out to be a tough, tough loss, and not a great week.”
Playing for the fifth time in seven nights, the Blackhawks showed sluggishness in spots, even as Quenneville worked to shorten shifts and keep four lines involved.
On the power play for a too-many-men-on-the-ice call against the Kings less than 90 seconds into the game, the Blackhawks could not enjoy the full span of the advantage, as officials whistled Chicago for the same penalty 1:36 later.
Chicago outshot Los Angeles 15-6 in the second period and benefited from the attacking presence of defenseman Brent Seabrook, who had a few scoring chances while moving up into the Blackhawks’ offensive zone.
The Blackhawks will enjoy a brief respite before traveling to Washington on Wednesday night. A three-game, five-day homestand follows.
The Kings begin a three-game homestand Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild, and are hopeful to benefit from the same scoring depth that served them well on the road.
“That’s what we pride ourselves on, you know,” Kopitar said. “It’s not just the one guy or two guys doing it. It’s anybody on any given night.”
NOTES: Kings C Torrey Mitchell made his club debut after joining the organization in a Nov. 23 trade with the Montreal Canadiens. Mitchell, who hails from Canada, had encountered visa issues that delayed his arrival. He did not register a point after going scoreless in 11 games with Montreal. ... Blackhawks C Tanner Kero, D Michal Kempny and D Jordan Oesterle were healthy scratches, as were Kings C Nic Dowd and D Oscar Fantenberg. ... The Blackhawks lead the all-time series with the Kings, 93-76-17-7.