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Blackhawks 3, Kings 0 @NHLdotcom

CHICAGO (AP) -It took nearly two seasons for Nikolai Khabibulin to post a shutout with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Khabibulin stopped 26 shots in his 99th game in a Chicago uniform and Patrick Sharp scored two goals in a 3-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night.

Khabibulin, who signed a four-year, $27-million contract with the Blackhawks in August 2005, posted his first regular-season shutout since March 1, 2004, while with Tampa Bay. He recorded his 36th NHL shutout.

In the 2004 playoffs, Khabibulin posted five shutouts with the Lightning to help lead them to the Stanley Cup title.

"It really was a long time since the last one," Khabibulin said. "I don't know why, but I had that feeling that tonight was the night.

"I knew it was going to happen one of these nights sooner or later. It took longer than I anticipated and now it's over and maybe I'll have a few."

Khabibulin faced his toughest chances in the first period when Los Angeles took 11 shots.

"I saw the puck well but also I think in the first period we got fortunate a couple of times," he said. "But to get a shutout you have to be fortune sometimes and the guys really played well."

Khabibulin's teammates knew their goalie - Chicago's highest-paid player - had yet to post a shutout since joining the Blackhawks.

"We didn't talk about it at all, for superstitious reasons I guess," Sharp said. "But we were all aware. Going into the third period, we looked around and realized that we needed to dig in and play smart hockey."

Rene Bourque also scored for Chicago, which won its second straight after a 1-6-2 stretch. Brent Seabrook and Jeff Hamilton each had two assists in the matchup of two of the Western Conference's worst three teams.

Sean Burke made 18 saves for the Kings, last in the West with 54 points.

Following the game, Los Angeles coach Marc Crawford could be heard yelling at his team behind the closed dressing room door.

"When you allow any team in the National Hockey League not to work for their goals, then you're really facing an uphill battle," Crawford said. "In a game tonight between two teams at the bottom of the league battling for position, I was disappointed in how our battle level was."

Still, Crawford credited Khabibulin.

"He played well," Crawford said. "I thought he was sound and didn't allow a lot of rebounds, especially in the first period.

"But we didn't test him to the level that we'll be sending that one to the Hall of Fame."

Bourque had the only goal of the first period, scoring just 22 seconds in on the game's first shot.

After taking a long lead pass from Hamilton, Bourque slipped past defenseman Aaron Miller and skated in on left wing. He scored on a low shot that squeezed between Burke's pads.

Khabibulin made a couple of close-in stops in the first, including a toe save on Ken Cammalleri at 4:37.

Sharp made it 2-0 at 1:38 of the second period. He swept in a one-timed shot from the left circle after Seabrook chipped a cross-ice pass to him that bounced past two Kings.

Sharp's power-play goal with 8.1 seconds left in the period gave Chicago a 3-0 lead. He popped in a rebound of Tuomo Ruutu's shot following a Los Angeles turnover.

The Kings managed only three shots in the second, two on a late power play.

Khabibulin faced 12 shots in the third.

Notes: Blackhawks D Jim Wisniewski tore a ligament in his right knee during the game and will be out indefinitely. ... Chicago C Jason Williams played despite a broken left big toe. ... The Blackhawks will play their next five games on the road as the Big Ten and the NCAA basketball tournaments take over the United Center. ... The Kings recalled D Peter Harrold from Manchester of the AHL and put him in the lineup. ... Los Angeles D Rob Blake was a late scratch because of a groin pull. Kings C Anze Kopitar missed his third game with a muscle strain, and D Lubomir Visnovsky sat out his second with a lower body injury.

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