LOS ANGELES -- Reality set in for the Los Angeles Kings soon after the lights were turned back on at Staples Center.
It's 2013, the Stanley Cup is once 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 at Staples Center 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.
The Kings, perhaps left flat-footed by a stirring pregame ceremony that included receiving championship rings from Tiffany & Co., an appearance by the Stanley Cup and the championship banner being raised up to the rafters, didn't respond until Rob Scuderi scored late in the second period.
By then it was much too late.
Patrick Kane, Hossa and Michael Frolik scored for the Hawks in the first period. Jonathan Toews made it 4-0 just 76 seconds into the second period when he stuffed in a wide-open rebound left by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, who had just foiled Kane on a breakaway.
Scuderi, who had just one goal all of last season, got the Kings on the board with 1:23 left in the second with a wrist shot through traffic. Jordan Nolan cut the deficit in half with a tip-in goal at 9:20 of the third. However, Hossa scored his second of the afternoon just 15 seconds later to extend Chicago's lead back to three goals. Hossa's slap shot off the rush got past Quick because it changed directions after deflecting off Alec Martinez.
Quick, who made 17 saves, did not allow more than three goals in any of his 20 games during last season's run to the Stanley Cup -- and he only did that twice.
Special teams played a big part in the Hawks' win.
Chicago's power play, which was 26th in the NHL last season, got going early when Kane rifled a one-timer into the short side, under Quick's glove, from the lower right circle for a 5-on-3 goal 3:41 into the game.
Kane set the play up by using the space allowed with the two-man advantage to separate from the defense. He fed Hossa and slid down into shooting position, waiting for the return pass with his stick coiled back. Quick got back across, but left a hole between his glove and pads that Kane found.
It was the first goal of the 2012-13 NHL season.
The Blackhawks' penalty kill, which was 27th in the NHL last season, was perfect against five Kings' power plays.
Hossa made it 2-0 with 7:03 to play in the first period when he feathered what was supposed to be a pass to a cutting Toews off of Drew Doughty's leg and past Quick. Toews knifed through the middle, slicing between Doughty and Dustin Penner, but Hossa's pass never quite got to him -- and it didn't matter.
With the amped-up crowd already quiet, Frolik forced a few fans to the concessions early when he and Marcus Kruger took advantage of a Kings' miscue near the home bench. Kruger collected the puck and found Frolik, whose 40-foot blast beat Quick on the glove side with 5:49 left in the period.
The Kings' flat-footed defense hurt them again early in the second period when Brent Seabrook connected with Kane on an outlet pass from in front of the Hawks' net. Kane broke free down the left side and quickly cut to the middle, but after deking he was stopped by Quick. The problem was none of the Kings' forwards backchecked, leaving Toews all alone in the slot for the juicy rebound. The Hawks' captain stuffed the puck into the net to give Chicago a 4-0 lead 1:16 into the second period.
L.A. had back-to-back power-play opportunities midway through the period, but the Blackhawks held the Kings to just two shots on goal.
The Kings got on the board with just 1:23 to play in the second when Scuderi's wrist shot from the left point breezed past Crawford, who was left blind by a screen from Kyle Clifford. Colin Fraser set it up by working the puck around the rim and moving it to Scuderi at the left point.
Fraser and Clifford again did the work down-low to help create the Kings' second goal -- a tip-in by Nolan off a feed from Matt Greene -- but it was the lack of production from L.A.'s top lines that raised eyebrows.
The top line of Mike Richards, Dustin Brown and Simon Gagne was a combined minus-9, as all three were on the ice for Chicago's final three goals. Jeff Carter, Penner and Justin Williams were on the ice for Hossa's first goal.
Anze Kopitar, the Kings' top scorer last season, was not in the lineup due to a knee injury.
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