Simmonds, Quick shine as Kings down Blackhawks

Game 27: Kings 2, Blackhawks 1 (shootout)

The Chi-Hawks are in town to take on the sketchy Kings at Staples. The 7 p.m. start was a bit of a hassle, as the USC/UCLA game had the usual L.A. traffic more snarled than usual. Smart fans left for the game on Thursday.

The last time the Blackhawks and Kings played was earlier this month, L.A. got Toews-ed. And that was when the Kings were hitting on all cylinders. What was going to happen when they meet again, with Smyth and Scuderi out? Before coming into L.A., Chicago just had their 8-game winning streak snapped by the Ducks. The first win of that streak? Yup, against the Kings.

Wayne Simmonds scored his third goal in three games and seems to be the only King to step up his offensive game. Also back in the lineup was Jarret Stoll, who helped his team in the faceoff circle. Michal Handzus was a beast in the dots, winning 75% of the drops. Alexander Frolov seemed alive as well, really making more of an effort on the top line with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams.

And speaking of the Slovenian Stunner, Kopitar finally turned on the red light, albiet in the shootout, when he performed a sweet shoulder dip then sliding the puck under Cristobol Huet. And Jack "The Enigma" Johnson, whose -12 plus/minus is the worst on the club, continues to shine in the shoot, absolutely schooling Huet with a dazzling shot that wowed everyone.

I suppose it's too late to do a Thanksgiving article, since it's three days after the fact. But as I write this, I'm picking through the remnants of a plate full of turkey, stuffing and candied yams, so I think the premise still works. I have two kudos to bestow.

Thank you, Jonny (Don't Call Me Jonathon) Quick. You backstopped all but one of the Kings games this month, and look very worthy of the 3-year contract Dean Lombardi signed you to last month. Your 14 wins are just one off the league leaders (Brodeur, Nabokov and Fluery) and are one of the key reasons to L.A.'s success.

Quick was dialed in Saturday, only getting Toews-ed once late in the game. After losing three of the last four games, he needed a good showing, and he responded. He got revenge on Toews by blanking him in the shootout, then did the same to Patrick Kane. It was the type of performance that rewarded him with the first star of the game and an interview with Heidi Androl after the game.

Thank you, Wayne Simmonds. Thank you for being the sole offensive cataylst this past week. Sure, Matt Greene potted a goal in the Edmonton game on Wednesday (which you got the assist on. Bang on, sir.) Since Kopitar has gone cold, you keep finding ways of lighting the lamp and perfecting your celebration fist-pump. Plus, his ability to get under other teams' skin is apparent in the way he can draw penalties.

Simmonds' goal is a prime example of why I'm so high on this kid. Leaving a drop pass for MIchal Handzus, Simmonds crashed the net then received a pinpoint pass by his linemate, backhanding it past Cristobal Huet. He also damn near won the game in overtime, as his shot hit Huet's glove and just missed the goal. It's been a delight to watch this kid develop into a solid Top-6 player.

With the win, the Kings finish on the plus side for the month (seven wins to six losses). Three of those were shootout wins. They maintain their position in the West, and should be getting Scuderi and Smyth back in December. It was announced by Rich "The News Hound" Hammond that Smyth will skate Monday for the first time since getting injured. Some fans think Smyth is pushing a fast return to make an impression on Steve Yzerman to be included on Canada's Olympic hockey squad.

But the Kings need Smyth worse than Team Canada, so I hope he returns when he can be productive for us in the playoffs. And let me just say this: Smyth has already been shelved once this season due to injury. If he gets dinged in the Olympics and misses more time... I'm not going to be happy.

Wayne Simmonds #17 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates his second period goal against the Chicago Blackhawks during the game on November 28, 2009 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noah Graham/NHLI via Getty Images)
• AP: Kopitar, Johnson help Kings beat Blackhawks in shootout
    “We did all the little things today and it paid off in the end,” Quick said. “The team played great in front of me, blocked shots and cleared out rebounds. It was a good game, and we just have to build off of it.”
• LATimes: Kings tough out a victory over Chicago Blackhawks
    The Kings mustered only 22 shots against Cristobal Huet in regulation and overtime and made Wayne Simmonds' beautiful second-period backhander stand up until Toews got free in front of the net during a power play and prodded home the rebound of a shot by Kane at 6:56 of the third.
• Quick on the draw
    After Saturday's victory, Kings coach Terry Murray insinuated that Jonathan Quick might start 70 games in goal, then quickly backtracked and said he was joking.
• Kings crown Hawks
    Anze Kopitar and Jack Johnson scored in the shootout for Los Angeles, which hadn't won on home ice since Nov. 5 against Pittsburgh. Wayne Simmonds scored in the second period.
• Yahoo: Team report
    In an entertaining game with a lot of action but not a lot of goals, the Kings took a 1-0 lead into the third period, couldn't hold it and then held on as the Blackhawks put consistent pressure on Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. Quick came up big in regulation and stopped both Chicago shooters in the shootout, and Anze Kopitar and Jack Johnson both scored in the shootout for the victory.
They said it
    “We’re going to find out. I don’t know. I don’t have that answer. What I do know is, he’s a big, thick guy. He’s very strong. He handles all of the crease pressure very well and he comes back the next day and he’s fresh. I have a hard time keeping him off the ice on an optional (practice), on a morning skate. He just likes to get out and feel the puck. He’s married now. He has dinner prepared for him every night. He’s feeling good. He’s a strong guy.” – Terry Murray, on whether he's going to start Quick 70 games.
     “I don’t know. It was a good game. You just have to build off it. You can’t start digging into the the past. You just want to keep the momentum going as a team.” – Jonny (Don't Call HIm Jonathon) Quick on whether that was his best game of the season.
Across the Kingdom

• MayorsManor: Stat check Kings v Blackhawks
    Bucking the Trend - When teams play the second game of back to backnights the odds strongly favor the more rested team...unless you're theBlackhawks. Last year they finished will above .500 in those secondgames and this season they're an astonishing and 4-0-1 in the secondgame. Time to erase that zero tonight? (Ed. note: They did and HappyBirthday, Mayor!)
• Inside Hockey: Kings squeak two versus 'Hawks
    They came out ready, more so that the other night against Calgary, when Iginla scored with thirteen seconds gone.  Perhaps the Kings were helped to their early energy by a capacity crowd, safely in their seats for the drop of the first puck.  (For those of you not from LA, that’s rare, as the local crowd is notoriously late-arriving.  Traffic and all that.)
• Kings and Quick shut down Blackhawks
    Jack Johnson is money in the shootout. Jonathan Quick is bank.
• Loktionov update
    Andrei Loktionov will have surgery to repair a torn capsule in his shoulder and will be out of action approximately four months, according to Dean Lombardi. It sounded as though Loktionov’s surgery and Thomas Hickey’s surgery will both take place relatively soon.
• HockeyBuzz's Matt Barry: Lombardi Needs To Make a Deal
    Lombardi went into the season thin, and now its starting to show. One more injury and the Kings could be in serious trouble. One more injury in Manchester and they might win another game.
From across the aisle, the Chicago viewpoint

• Second City Hockey: It's something less than a holiday
    The deadlock was broken when Marlboro 72 reverted to their sophomore year ways, letting Michal Handzus and Wayne Simmonds dance through them unmolested.  Good play by the Kings duo to be sure, but Seabrook should have closed down the passing lane better, and Keith could have done more than ask Simmonds if he wanted fries with that as he skated by.  1-0.
• The Fifth Feather: Kings 2, Blackhawks 1 (SOL)
    The last half of the third and overtime were both played without a tally by either team, but the sort of play was what the NHL envisioned when it changed the overtime frame to 4-on-4.  The five-minute extra period included a minute of 4-on-3 for the Hawks, who were unable to take advantage.
• Blackhawk Up: Stuffed turkey live blog
    Nothing like a national anthem sung by a guy with a Jerry Seinfeld circa 1994 haircut and an awful leather jacket. F-ing L.A…
• Paint It Blackhawks: Saturday’s Three Stars: 100 Minute Drought Ends, But Hawks Still Fall
    The Kings out-muscled the Hawks throughout the game, delivering hellacious hits and playing absolutely suffocating defense. Some of the speedier Hawks like Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane found themselves hand-cuffed through the first two periods of the contest, and it looked for a long time that Chicago wasn’t going to be able to find the net on anything.
Message board meltdown
This is a new feature I've been wanting to try, since every team has rabid fans, who provide classic commentary, once you sift through the whining/complaining/suicide notes...
• HF Boards: GDT LESS PLZ (Chicago Blackhawks @ Los Angeles Kings 11/28)
    Bubba88: The SO by Kopitar was a really good move and a great goal. No Chance for a Goalie. Quick was the reason for only 1 Point.
    Blackhawkswincup: Huet has played well but he is still the worst shootout goalie in NHL
         DeeMeck: Jason LaBarbera says hi.
    zac: This is one game I really thought the Hawks lost in the FO circle.Everyone was Handzus' ***** tonight, which shouldn't be happening withguys like Toews and Madden on the team. Several instances where theHawks were on the PP and couldn't keep it in the zone off the FO. The 4on 3 in OT was a prime example.
Peeping the dailies

<br/><a href="" target="_new" title="Kings bust Blackhawks in SO">Video: Kings bust Blackhawks in SO</a>


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