The plot, essentially, didn’t change much in 24 hours during the Kings’ brief visit to the Midwest.
They could not score against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night in a 3-0 loss at United Center. Just as they were unable to score against the St. Louis Blues the previous night. For the record, the last Kings goal was Jeff Carter’s overtime effort on Thursday against Nashville.
And yet another injury occurred during a troubling weekend for the Kings. This time, it was forward Andy Andreoff sustaining an upper-body injury in the second period against the Blackhawks and he did not return. At St. Louis, defenseman Brayden McNabb left the game with an upper-body injury. He had X-rays, his arm was in a sling and the Kings placed him on injured reserve on Sunday.
“Injuries are part of sports,” Kings captain Anze Kopitar said. “If we’re going to use that as an excuse, then there’s no sense of playing. It happens. You have to work with what you’ve got. We’ve got to figure it out. That’s the bottom line.”
For Chicago goalie Corey Crawford, who faced 32 shots, it was his first shutout of the season and the 20th of his career. Jonathan Toews scored his first goal of the season, on the power play in the first period, and added an assist. Marian Hossa set up the Blackhawks’ second goal with some vintage work along the boards in the second period and he added an empty-netter, also on the power play, with 1:10 remaining.
Hossa was honored in a nice pregame ceremony for having scored his 500th NHL goal — having accomplished it on Oct. 18 against Philadelphia. His young daughter, Zoja, managed to steal the show in Chicago. Two-year-old Zoja, in her father’s arms for the ceremony, honked his nose, and the moment was captured on the Jumbotron at United Center.
This was the first series of games on back-to-back nights this season for the Kings.
The Kings spent most of the first period killing penalties. They were assessed eight minutes in the opening 20 minutes, including a double minor to defenseman Derek Forbort for high sticking.
Sutter used a creative description to describe the series of minor penalties.
“They were feet in the sand, not on-the-ice penalties,” he said. “The second period we got a little bit better … Hossa beat us off the wall, made a really strong play against us. I thought the third period was our best period.”
The Kings had 13 shots on goal in the third period. But the overall total — 32 — doesn’t tell a complete story.
“We’re getting the chances, but I don’t think we’re getting the Grade-A quality that we really want in the middle of the ice,” Kopitar said. “I think we’ve got to work harder to get in the quality scoring areas. Once we do get there, we’ve got to bury them. They don’t come around often.”
There were a few lineup tweaks. Winger Jordan Nolan replaced forward Nick Shore and defenseman Matt Greene filled in for the injured McNabb. Greene logged 11 minutes 37 seconds, had three hits and two blocked shots. It was a solid performance considering he hadn’t played since the second game of the season.
“I thought Greener stepped in and did a good job for us,” Sutter said. “I think our defense, quite honest, was outstanding. Peter [Budaj] would certainly like to have the first goal back and our forwards weren’t up to the task.”