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Kings help Khabibulin end shutout drought

From the Associated Press

It took nearly two seasons for Nikolai Khabibulin to post a shutout with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Khabibulin stopped 26 shots in his 99th game in a Chicago uniform and Patrick Sharp scored two goals in a 3-0 victory over the Kings on Tuesday night.

Khabibulin, who signed a four-year, $27-million contract with the Blackhawks in August 2005, posted his first regular-season shutout since March 1, 2004, while with Tampa Bay. He recorded his 36th NHL shutout.

In the 2004 playoffs, Khabibulin posted five shutouts with the Lightning to help lead the team to the Stanley Cup title.

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“It really was a long time since the last one,” Khabibulin said. “I don’t know why, but I had that feeling that tonight was the night.”

Khabibulin faced his toughest chances in the first period when the Kings took 11 shots.

“I saw the puck well but also I think in the first period we got fortunate a couple of times,” he said. “But to get a shutout you have to be fortunate sometimes and the guys really played well.”

Rene Bourque also scored for Chicago, which won its second straight after a 1-6-2 stretch. Brent Seabrook and Jeff Hamilton each had two assists in the matchup of two of the Western Conference’s worst three teams.

Sean Burke made 18 saves for the Kings, last in the West with 54 points.

After the game, Kings Coach Marc Crawford could be heard yelling at his team behind the closed dressing room door.

“When you allow any team in the National Hockey League not to work for their goals, then you’re really facing an uphill battle,” Crawford said. “In a game tonight between two teams at the bottom of the league battling for position, I was disappointed in how our battle level was.”

Still, Crawford credited Khabibulin.

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“He played well,” Crawford said. “I thought he was sound and didn’t allow a lot of rebounds, especially in the first period.

“But we didn’t test him to the level that we’ll be sending that one to the Hall of Fame.”

*

TONIGHT

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at Columbus, 4, Prime Ticket

Site -- Nationwide Arena.

Radio -- 1150.

Records -- Kings 22-34-10, Blue Jackets 26-33-7.

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Record vs. Blue Jackets -- 1-1.

Update -- Defensemen Rob Blake (groin) and Lubomir Visnovsky (sprained ankle) missed Tuesday’s game against the Blackhawks. Visnovsky is doubtful for tonight; Blake is listed as questionable. The Kings brought up Peter Harrold from minor league Manchester (N.H.).

-- Chris Foster


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