February 17: Blackhawks 3, Kings 2, United Center

Looking back before looking ahead to the Western Conference finals …

Patrick Sharp scored the winning goal for the Blackhawks and Ray Emery filled in for Corey Crawford in goal. The Blackhawks were rolling toward the NHL’s best start in history, and the Kings were mired in what sure looked like a Stanley Cup hangover. Coach Darryl Sutter continued to deny the fact, but the Kings were a pedestrian 5-6-2 to start their championship defense. Mike Richards scored their only goals on this night, both on power plays.

The Kings’ defense wasn’t exactly great, either, with Jonathan Quick facing 37 shots. Things would improve with a change of scenery, however. The Kings’ trip continued with a stop in Edmonton, where they would begin a five-game winning streak with a 3-1 victory over the Oilers. In fact, the Kings’ defeat to the Blackhawks was their only loss in a stretch of eight games. It also was one of only two losses in an 11-game span that propelled them from also-ran to playoff contender by early March.

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