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Blackhawks top Kings behind mourning Kane

by Curtis Zupke

LOS ANGELES -- Patrick Kane didn't make it more than a few seconds into his postgame media scrum before the tears began to fall down his face.

Kane learned of the death of his grandfather, Donald Kane, on Monday, hours before he had two goals and an assist to lead the Chicago Blackhawks to a 5-3 win against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center.

Kane scored in the first and third periods, the latter a finish of Patrick Sharp's pretty cross-crease pass at 11:09 to make it 5-3, and Chicago held off Los Angeles in a game between the past two Stanley Cup champions, both struggling before the break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Kane recounted to reporters how much his grandfather meant to him.

"Tough day overall," Kane said. "He was one of my great friends growing up, and [it's] just a really sad day. It was important to get the win, but anytime you get someone taken away from you that's so close, that means so much - it's tough to hear that right before the game.

"He lived next door to me my whole childhood. We'd do things like play cards and hang out by the pool throughout the summers. He came to a lot of my hockey games, but more importantly, for him, he was worried about grades and being a good kid. It was a tough day, for sure."

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said he wasn't aware of the death of Kane's grandfather until after the second period.

It was the second time in three weeks an opponent played an inspired game at Staples Center following the death of a family member. Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar had a goal and an assist Jan. 11 after the death of his father, Jan.

"It was a special game for him tonight," Quenneville said of Kane. "He's a proud guy. I think his grandfather meant a lot to him. Probably a very emotional night for him, but he played an unbelievable game. He had the puck and scored a couple, but did so many other things. I'm sure he's excited what he did for him."

The Blackhawks also got timely goals from Marcus Kruger and Nick Leddy in the second and third periods to help end a 1-2-3 slide in their previous six games and improve to 13-0-6 against the Pacific Division.

The Kings equaled their goal total from their previous six games on goals by Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar and Tyler Toffoli, but they're 1-8-1 in their past 10 games, their worst slump since the 2012 Cup season, after the loss to the Blackhawks.

The Kings have one game left before the Olympic break and one more chance to go in on a high note. They host the red-hot Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.

Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter sounded like the break can't come soon enough.

"You've got to coach them up, but they aren't young guys," Sutter said. "They are veteran guys. They are having a hard time right now, whether it's the schedule or just where they are at with their own games. That's something they need to deal with themselves, for sure."

The Kings were outshooting Chicago 15-2 in the second period when Kruger's deflection of Leddy's point shot went in the net off Matt Greene's stick for a 3-2 Blackhawks lead.

"It turned out to be a huge goal for us," Quenneville said. "It kind of gave us a little momentum and a little life exiting the second period."

Leddy scored on a slap shot at 7:01 of the third, eight seconds after an interference penalty on Greene expired, to double the Blackhawks' lead.

The second was among the Kings' best periods this season. They found their forecheck and used their physicality effectively. They also hit three posts, and Chicago goalie Corey Crawford had to make a tough stop on a point-blank chance for Dustin Brown.

Kopitar ignited the home crowd into its loudest roar in some time when he chipped the puck past Crawford to tie it 2-2 at 6:30. Kopitar had scored all three of the Kings' goals in the previous six games, and he has four of the team's past six goals.

But Los Angeles just couldn't keep up with the NHL's highest-scoring team.

"Tonight, energy-wise, I think was our best night in a while," Brown said. "We've got to just keep plugging along. I know it's a broken record, but we're not going to get out of it by doing anything different. We know what type of team we are and we know what we have to do as team, and it's just a matter of doing it."

The Kings said they didn't want to get into a track meet with the Blackhawks, but that's what happened in the first 10 minutes as Chicago jumped to a 2-0 lead.

Kane took a pass from Jonathan Toews at the lower left circle, wheeled to the net and slipped the puck under goalie Jonathan Quick for a power play goal at 1:02 of the first. Doughty was sent off 24 seconds into the game for a charging penalty on Sharp.

Bryan Bickell, scratched in three of the previous four games, made it 2-0 at 8:44 when he one-timed Kane's pass to finish a 3-on-1. Kings defenseman Slava Voynov drove the middle and his pass floated out to the blue line to create the rush the other way for the Blackhawks.

Doughty scored a power play goal at 9:52 of in the second period for the Kings' first goal by someone other than Kopitar since Jan.21.

Each team finished 1-for-5 with the man advantage. The Kings dominated on faceoffs, with 41 wins in 63 draws.

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