LOS ANGELES—The team that may make the most noise come spring might be the one the Blackhawks faced Saturday at the Staples Center.
Despite being decimated by injuries and enduring a marathon road trip, the Los Angeles Kings have kept their heads above water.
The Hawks' two-week, seven-game trip comes to an end Sunday in Anaheim against the surprising Mighty Ducks. Through the first six games the Hawks are 1-5.
After a scoreless first period, L.A. got on the board when Eric Rasmussen got behind Hawks defenseman Steve Poapst and redirected a perfect pass from Ziggy Palffy at 4 minutes 50 seconds of the second period.
The Hawks were having trouble just getting shots on goal. After getting the first four shots of the game in the first seven minutes, the Hawks had just one in the next 13.
Barely two minutes after the Kings took the lead, the Hawks tied it on a power-play goal by Kyle Calder, snapping on 0-for-16 drought with the man advantage.
But then the Kings took control. With Nathan Dempsey in the penalty box for holding, rookie Mike Cammalleri batted a rebound of a Jaroslav Modry shot out of midair past Thibault at 8:20 to make it 2-1.
Derek Armstrong tipped a shot from Mathieu Schneider to make it 3-1 at 12:37.
Shortly thereafter, Mikko Eloranta picked up a loose puck in front of his own net and skated unimpeded the length of the ice, gave a perfect feed to Eric Belanger, who tipped the puck past Thibault to make it 4-1.
Three goals in a span of 4:44 sent Thibault to the bench for the first time this season and gave Craig Andersson his NHL debut.
"We feel like we're a team in the top three or four in the conference if we're healthy," injured Kings center Jason Allison said.
Allison sustained an injury to his right knee Oct. 29 in Atlanta and has begun skating again. The Kings expect Allison to return to the lineup well before the initial target date of February.
The Kings are well ahead of their pace from last season, when they struggled out of the gate. After 23 games last year, they were 7-11-3-2 for 19 points. With Saturday's win, they're 10-7-4-3 for 27 points.
"Last year at this time we were in worse position than this year and we finished with 95 points," Allison said. "The next couple weeks you're going to see a fairly healthy lineup. After that I think we'll start rolling."
Unlike the Hawks, who have weathered an offensive drought with excellent goaltending from Thibault, the Kings haven't done any one thing that spectacular. Their offense2.7 goals per gameis in the middle of the pack and they've actually allowed one more goal than they've scored.
"We've found ways to get points," Allison said. "We haven't won a lot of hockey games, but we've gotten points. Once [injured forward Adam Deadmarsh] and I are healthy, we'll help the offense score some goals."