The Chicago Blackhawks are heading home from their annual "Circus Trip" on a high note.
The defending Stanley Cup champs got goals from Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane on Saturday night to beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1, giving them four wins in six games on their two-week trek through Western Canada and California.
Corey Crawford, who stopped 26 shots in Friday's win at Anaheim, made 21 saves to shut down the Kings. He lost his shutout bid with 5:02 remaining when Anze Kopitar beat him high to the glove side with a screened 45-foot slap shot from the high slot during a 5-on-3 power play. Crawford has allowed no more than two goals in any of his last six starts.
The sweep of Southern California was just the third in 25 tries for the Hawks since the Ducks entered the NHL in 1993. They also did it in March 1994 and February 1996.
"It was pretty good for us to get eight points out of it," said Kane, whose team is off until St. Louis comes to the United Center on Tuesday. "With a trip this long, sometimes it's tough to keep going strong and stay upbeat like we were the last couple of games. We're excited to go back home and play in front of our fans, but overall we've got to be happy with this trip."
The Kings have dropped three in a row and six of their last seven games.
"It's frustrating to us because we're just so close," defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "We haven't been blown out of games, we've been in games but we just can't get over this little hump we're on. If we stick with it, don't panic and stick together, I think we'll be a better team because of it, but we just need to keep our heads about us."
The game was scoreless when Los Angeles defenseman Jack Johnson attempted a one-timer from the high slot after one of his teammates' shots was blocked in front of the net. However, Johnson fanned on the puck and the Blackhawks took off on a 2-on-1 rush against Drew Doughty. Kane held the puck, drew Doughty toward him, then slipped the puck to Sharp, who hit the wide-open net at 10:36 of the second period to open the scoring.
"It's a good play to get it into his hands these days, because he's on fire," Kane said.
Sharp has 15 goals in his first 25 games, including five in his last six. Last season, he didn't get his 15th goal until his 45th game and finished with 25.
"I like to think I've been a consistent goal scorer for the last few years, and now I'm getting opportunities," said Sharp, who had a career-high 36 in 2007-08. "I've had confidence all season long - and even when I haven't scored, I've still felt good out there, so I knew the goals were going to come. I don't think anyone scored in every game, but I'm going to try."
Kane, who scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal for the Blackhawks in overtime last June, made it 2-0 just 66 seconds into the third period when Tomas Kopecky's blind backhanded pass toward the crease from the right corner hit him as he crashed the net, then caromed off the right post and across the goal line. The ruling was that Kane did not intentionally knock it in with his hand, and the goal was upheld by video review.
"I was fortunate that they did call it a goal," Kane said. "I was pretty confident, but I don't think the coaches were as confident as I was. The coaches were saying it was kind of 50-50, but I pretty much knew it was going to be a goal, because I didn't really do anything (against the rules).
The Kings, who got off to a fast start, are trying to put the wheels back on after a slump that has dropped them from first to eighth in the West.
"We've got to start playing like we did in the beginning of the year, those first 15 games," Kopitar said. "We've got to get started again. … Chicago is a good team, we've got to work harder and smarter. If we work hard, we're going to break through."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report