LOS ANGELES -- Reality set in for the Los Angeles Kings soon after the lights were turned back on at Staples Center.
The Stanley Cup is again up for grabs, and the Kings need to be much better than they were Saturday if they want the opportunity to play for it again.
The Chicago Blackhawks silenced the previously deafening and delirious sold-out crowd of 18,545 with three goals in the first period and another early in the second before finishing off a 5-2 victory thanks to a three-point afternoon from Marian Hossa and 19 saves from Corey Crawford.
"That's probably the perfect game, team-wise, to start the year," Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane said.
The Kings, who perhaps were left flat-footed by a stirring pregame ceremony that included them receiving championship rings from Tiffany & Co., an appearance by the Stanley Cup, and the championship banner going up to the rafters, didn't respond until Rob Scuderi scored late in the second period.
By then it was much too late.
Jonathan Quick, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy last year because he didn't allow more than three goals in any of his 20 Stanley Cup Playoff games, gave up the five goals on 22 shots. Los Angeles' top line of Mike Richards, Dustin Brown and Simon Gagne was a combined minus-9 and the Kings' power play went 0-for-5 with five shots on goal.
The Kings were missing Anze Kopitar, who is recovering from a knee injury.
"I know everyone is going to look at that [ceremony] and say is that why we lost," Brown said. "They played a better game, they outworked us, and that's why they won."
Kane scored the first goal of the 2012-13 NHL season with a sharp one-timer from the lower right circle during a 5-on-3 to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead 3:41 into the game.
Chicago's power play was 26th in the NHL last season, so making a statement on it so early in the season opener was a big deal to the Blackhawks.
So, too, was the fact Chicago held the Los Angeles power play to next to nothing for the entire game. The Blackhawks were 27th on the PK last season.
"We know [special teams] is going to win or lose some games for us and we have to really focus on that, not just expect that our players are going to go out there and do the job," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "We have to be the hardest workers out there, whether we're killing or we're on the power play. We worked today and it made a difference for us."
Hossa and Michael Frolik gave Chicago its 3-0 lead at the first intermission by scoring back-to-back goals separated by 74 seconds.
Hossa's goal came off an attempted pass to Toews that hit Kings defenseman Drew Doughty in the legs and redirected into the net. Frolik scored on a one-timer from the top of the right circle off a feed from Marcus Kruger, who niftily split Gagne and flat-footed Matt Greene to carry the puck into the zone.
Quick, who allowed three goals twice in 20 playoff games last year, was beaten three times on nine shots in the first period.
"They scored the 5-on-3 goal. That certainly was no letdown, there were two penalties called," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "Then they scored the second goal, it hit Drew, and we just couldn't get any momentum after that.
"Our top players can all be a heck of a lot better players," he later added. "It's simple. You guys saw that. You know that."
Toews, who played despite missing practice Friday with the flu, made it 4-0 76 seconds into the second period when he stuffed in a wide-open rebound left by Quick, who had just finished foiling Kane on a breakaway attempt.
Alec Martinez and Slava Voynov tried to get back to catch Kane, who was stopped when he attempted to put the puck through Quick's five-hole. However, Richards and Brown were several steps behind Toews, who without the pressure of backchecking forwards didn't have to do much to get the puck into the net.
"I was at the end of a long shift so it was kind of a gamble to go all the way down there instead of changing," Toews said. "I got lucky I guess."
The Kings scored the next two goals -- the first off a Scuderi wrist shot late in the second period and the second on a tip-in by Jordan Nolan midway through the third. However, 15 seconds after Nolan scored from the slot, Hossa beat Quick for his second goal of the game.
Hossa's shot deflected off Martinez's leg, changing direction just enough to fool Quick.
"I think most people expected to be a little rusty and I thought both teams were," Scuderi said. "We made more mistakes, but at the end of the day we have to clean up our act."
Not the Blackhawks. They just hope to keep a good thing rolling at the Phoenix Coyotes on Sunday when they play Game 2 of 48.
"We probably couldn't have asked for a better start," Kane said.
|PPG - Patrick Kane (1) ASST: Marian Hossa (1)|
1 - 0 CHI
|Marian Hossa (1) ASST: Daniel Carcillo (1), Brent Seabrook (1)|
2 - 0 CHI
|Michael Frolik (1) ASST: Marcus Kruger (1), Nick Leddy (1)|
3 - 0 CHI
|Jonathan Toews (1) ASST: Patrick Kane (1)|
4 - 0 CHI
|Rob Scuderi (1) ASST: Colin Fraser (1), Kyle Clifford (1)|
4 - 1 CHI
|Jordan Nolan (1) ASST: Matt Greene (1), Kyle Clifford (2)|
4 - 2 CHI
|Marian Hossa (2) ASST: Jonathan Toews (1)|
5 - 2 CHI
|Matt Greene Interference against Patrick Sharp|
|Trevor Lewis Cross checking against Jonathan Toews|
|Marian Hossa Slashing against Dustin Brown|
|Andrew Shaw Holding against Justin Williams|
|Davis Drewiske Interference against Viktor Stalberg|
|Patrick Sharp Tripping against Drew Doughty|
|Duncan Keith Tripping against Dustin Brown|
|Matt Greene Interference against Brandon Bollig|
|Drew Doughty Interference against Daniel Carcillo|
|Marcus Kruger Holding the stick against Simon Gagne|