Corey Crawford, Marian Hossa lead Blackhawks to shutout of Kings

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Marian Hossa gets his nose honked by his daughter, Zoja, while being honored by the Blackhawks for scoring 500 career goals before Sunday’s game. (AP Photo)

With Kings forward Jeff Carter draped over his back, Marian Hossa protected the puck along the wall, using his big body and his veteran savvy to win yet another board battle and nudge the puck to Artemi Panarin. Hossa then darted toward the faceoff dot to receive a quick pass back from Panarin, made a power move to the net, drew a defender toward him, and slipped a deft little cross-crease pass to Artem Anisimov, who popped the puck over a sprawled-out Peter Budaj for a second-period goal on Sunday night.

It was vintage Hossa. Fitting, too, that it came on a night the Blackhawks reflected on his spectacular career as they celebrated his 500th goal. Hossa had a goal, an assist, and played a major role in the first perfect penalty-killing night of the season for the Hawks in a 3-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. It was the most complete game of the season for the Hawks, who are 3-0-1 in their last four games after a shaky start. Corey Crawford continued his stellar play with a 32-save shutout, his first of the season.

“I felt great,” Crawford said. “I thought that was our best game defensively. We didn’t give up too many chances inside. Our ‘D’ were awesome moving the puck, getting in the play. Our PK was solid. That was a good game for us.”

Anisimov’s goal was the finest moment of a fine game for the latest incarnation of the second line, which seemed to have the puck all game, and which is looking less like a stopgap and more like a solution. With Patrick Kane on the top line and jumpstarting Jonathan Toews — “It seems like old habit with Kaner,” Toews said — Hossa has slid right in alongside Panarin and Anisimov.

“It’s tough to fill Kaner’s shoes with Panarin,” Hossa said. “But the good thing is right now we’ve got a little more balance on the first two lines. I’ll just try to keep it going and, hopefully, we can keep winning.”

It was an all-around strong effort from the Hawks against the injury-ravaged Kings, who are without goalie Jonathan Quick, forward Marian Gaborik and defenseman Brayden McNabb. Just as critical as the penalty kill, the Hawks outshot a team in the first period for just the second time all season, taking a 1-0 lead on Toews’ power-play goal at 6:54 of the first.

It was Toews’ first goal of the season, and he released his frustration with a fiery fist pump after his shot from the top of the left circle made it through traffic and Budaj.

“The No. 1 thing was getting the chances,” Toews said. “It felt like we had a lot of shots. … It’s nice to feel comfortable shooting that puck, finally getting through traffic, seeing one go in. And hopefully we’ll keep going and getting that confidence that comes with it.”

After the Anisimov goal. Hossa added an empty-net goal, the 502nd tally of his career, and made a few of his trademark defensive plays on the penalty-kill, which held firm for both Kings power plays. That makes it five straight successful kills, which at least puts them above 50 percent for the season (17-of-31).

When asked if the five straight kills meant the PK woes were behind them, Quenneville didn’t answer. He simply smirked, and knocked on the wood lectern in front of him.

He was far more effusive talking about Hossa, who started the night in the spotlight during the pregame ceremony, which was attended by his wife, his parents, and his two daughters. The highlight was 2-year-old Zoja honking his nose during John McDonough’s speech. Hossa finished the night in the spotlight, too, as one of the game’s three stars — a vintage performance from an all-time great.

“His night tonight,” Quenneville said. “Very deserving, and he should be proud of what he’s accomplished.”


Twitter: @marklazerus

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