Jarret Stoll’s return is best part of a bad day
CHICAGO — If there was a bright note for the Kings on an otherwise rough Saturday at the United Center, it was the return of Jarret Stoll, who had missed more than two weeks with a concussion.
Playing short shifts during a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, the veteran center contributed 15 minutes and won 53% of his draws in the faceoff circle, where his team had struggled.
The game marked his first attempt at full contact since May 14, when he absorbed a high check that got San Jose Sharks left wing Raffi Torres suspended for the remainder of the second round.
Stoll’s injury kept him out for exactly the same amount of time. He was eager to come back.
“Give a hit, take a hit,” he said. “I know I took a hit the first shift — that helps simplify everything.”
Still, Coach Darryl Sutter detected some rust in his play.
“Jarret Stoll has to give us a quality performance in terms of what his role is on our team,” Sutter said. “I think it showed that he’d been out for a couple weeks.”
With a back-to-back start in this series, Stoll will have a chance to improve Sunday. He said he isn’t worried about mixing it up in the corners.
“You shouldn’t have any doubt at all,” he said. “Otherwise you shouldn’t be in the lineup.”
His winking ways
Marian Hossa must have sensed he had a good night coming. During the national anthem, as a television camera passed before him, the Blackhawks right wing gave a wink.
“Lots of my friends back home were watching at the bar,” he said. “They called me before the game, said they were going to watch. Hopefully they got the signal.”
If they missed it, they probably saw Hossa score the game-winner at 16:22 of the second period, deflecting a shot by defenseman Duncan Keith.
“One of those goals when the puck goes your way,” he said. “It just hit your stick and beat the goalie.”
The Blackhawks felt they needed that kind of play on a night when Kings goalie Jonathan Quick made one spectacular save after another, keeping the score close.
“He’s one of the fastest goalies in the league, if not the fastest,” Hossa said. “Whatever he sees, he’s going to stop it.”
Working extra shifts
As has been the case all season, Drew Doughty pulled a heavy load for the Kings with 26 minutes 28 seconds on the ice. The defenseman did not seem worried about coming back Sunday.
“Usually you feel better the second game of a back-to-back,” he said. “I don’t know why that is, you just do.”
The United Center has not been a happy place for Doughty, and with a minus-2 rating Saturday, he is still looking to turn things around at “The Madhouse on Madison.”
“It’s a tough rink to play in,” he said before the game. “It’s not one of my favorites, that’s for sure. I don’t know, I just don’t like it. I’ve never had a good vibe.”
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