Hawks Circus trip ends with shootout loss in LA

LOS ANGELES—All season long, the Los Angeles Kings have been making the kind of strides that befit a team with playoff aspirations. A solid defensive effort against the high-scoring Blackhawks was another significant step.Anze Kopitar and Jack Johnson scored in the first two rounds of a shootout and Jonathan Quick stopped both Hawk attempts, leading the Kings to a 2-1 victory Saturday night. Quick finished with a season-high 32 saves, and Wayne Simmonds scored early in the second period. The Kings spent the final 1:02 of overtime killing off a hooking penalty against Drew Doughty and then went to work against former Los Angeles goalie Cristobal Huet. Kopitar faked Huet to his left before sliding the puck between his legs, then Johnson made an identical move before flipping the puck over Huet’s glove. Quick stopped Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane at the other end. Michael Handzus was off serving a holding-the-stick penalty when Toews tied it with 13:04 left in regulation. Quick stopped Kane’s wrist shot from the top of the right circle, but Toews beat Matt Greene to the rebound.The Blackhawks finished their annual circus trip 4-1-1, their best showing since 1990-91 (5-1-0).Simmonds got his eighth of the season at 2:41 of the second period. He carried the puck along the right boards, left a drop pass for Handzus, headed toward the net, got a perfect return pass from Handzus at the edge of the crease and beat Huet with a backhander between the pads.Simmonds has scored the Kings’ first or only goal in three consecutive games, including Thursday’s 4-1 loss at Vancouver. He nearly won it with three minutes left in overtime, when his 20-foot wrist shot got a piece of Huet’s glove and trickled just wide of the right post.The Blakhawks came in averaging the fewest shots on net allowed (24.2) and Los Angeles had the second-fewest (26.3). The Kings, who had a season-low 18 shots on net against Huet in a 4-1 loss that started Chicago’s winning streak, had 22 this time.
NOTES—John Madden lost all nine faceoffs he took during the first two periods and 13 of 17 overall. He had won 48.9 percent of his faceoffs entering the game…..Toews, who led the Hawks last season with 34 goals, has three in his last 10 games after missing the previous six because of a concussion…..The Hawks had won eight straight before losing 3-0 at Anaheim on Friday night. The Blackhawks haven’t been shut out in consecutive games since a three-game stretch in October 2006…..The Kings and Blackhawks don’t meet again until March, when they play twice in a span of nine days to conclude the regular-season series….Huet’s last season with Los Angeles was 2003-04. Since then, 12 different goalies have played for the Kings