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The Key Three: Dec. 28

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings

Three key aspects of the Kings’ 2-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks

Did Jonathan Quick’s father offer, before the game, to reward him with a quarter for each save? Strong games are becoming common for Quick, but last night he looked extra-sharp and single-handedly prevented a handful of Chicago goals. The Blackhawks, with their deep, skilled group of forwards, come at a goalie in waves, with speed and relentlessly, and the Kings seemed a bit unprepared to deal with that in the first two or three minutes. Quick set the tone with some steady play early. Then, later in the game, when the Kings were trying to hold a lead, Quick made a handful of brilliant point-blank saves.

Who would have guessed that the Kings would get offense, energy and, yes, power-play time from the fourth line of Colin Fraser, Kyle Clifford and Trent Hunter? Based on the morning skate, it didn’t even seem as though Hunter would be in the lineup, but there he was, scoring a huge second-period goal to give the Kings a 1-0 lead. Hunter finished the play, but Clifford and Fraser both made it happen by crashing the net and making life difficult for Chicago goalie Corey Crawford. The fourth line played smartly and with intensity, and was still on the ice taking shifts in the final minutes of the third period.

The Blackhawks got the better of a scoreless first period, and the Kings dominated the second period and took a 1-0 lead. It seemed fair to assume that the first few minutes of the third period would go a long way toward determining the outcome of the game. Would the Blackhawks counterpunch, or would the Kings hold firm? It was the latter. Less than two minutes into the third period, the Kings had a flurry of activity around the Chicago net, and Jarret Stoll alertly knocked a loose puck past Crawford. The second goal allowed the Kings to play with confidence, and they did well to hold off the hard-charging Blackhawks.

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