The Chicago Blackhawks were on tired legs Sunday, but for much of the second period at home against the Kings they were able to channel their trademark quick-strike capability.
Slick passing. Great transition game.
The Kings could have suffered a loss in the finale of a four-game trip, but they scratched out a 3-1 win behind Jonathan Quick and a rare goal by defenseman Christian Folin.
Here's what we learned:
Goaltending, goaltending, goaltending
Let's use the real estate phrase associated with location to describe how the Kings have won five straight games. Quick and Darcy Kuemper have shouldered much of the effort, and often mask shortcomings that pop up, especially on the road.
Quick was at this level early in the season, when the Kings were scoring more. That support has dipped some, but he is there and it's a notable contrast to last season's opening-night injury that doomed the Kings.
"It's unbelievable," Folin said. "I get surprised every time. I think the puck's going to be in the net, and somehow it stays out."
Jake Muzzin was strong
Overshadowed by partner Drew Doughty, Muzzin quietly did the blue-collar work in bodying Blackhawks, shutting down lanes and breaking up shots and passes. He had six blocked shots and helped kill four power plays, however ineffective by Chicago.
Kings vs. Blackhawks is still fun
It was a bland start by their standards. Both teams were exhausted from the schedule and Chicago's inability to get set up in the Kings zone with the man-advantage drew some boos from the United Center crowd.
But from the second period on, the game was another example of the exciting hockey displayed when these teams get together. Long stretches without a whistle. Big scoring chances followed by big stops. There were only 34 faceoffs through two periods, and 60 for the game.