Antti Raanta registered his first career NHL shutout and Brandon Saad’s first period goal held up as the game winner as the Blackhawks finished 2013 with a 1-0 win at the expense of the Los Angeles Kings.
Raanta stopped all 26 shots the Kings put on net to earn the victory and the game’s number one star, though the effort from the skaters in front of him was exceptional as well.
Duncan Keith had a phenomenal game. He skated only 21:44 in the game and was credited with one assist, one takeaway and two blocked shots, but his biggest play was a poke check on Kyle Clifford from behind on a breakaway in the third period. The assist was Keith’s 36th of the season, moving him into a tie with Sidney Crosby for second in the NHL.
Andrew Shaw also played a strong game. In only 13:02, Shaw was credited with a game-high nine hits, and he also won five of ten faceoffs. He was credited with three shots on goal but created a number of good scoring chances, and poked the puck loose to start the Saad scoring play in the first.
Saad’s 14th goal of the season is also his second game-winning tally, giving him 30 points through the season’s first 42 games. With USA hockey set to announce their roster for the 2014 Winter Olympics after the Winter Classic on Wednesday, he has made a strong push to be included on the roster.
The officials failed to give Jonathan Toews a penalty shot for the second consecutive game, but Chicago’s captain had a very good game against the best defensive team in the league. Toews won 16 of 24 faceoffs and was credited with one blocked shot and two takeaways in the victory.
Marcus Kruger had another good night at the dot, winning nine of 12 faceoffs and blocking two shots in the game. Kruger led Chicago forwards with 2:00 of short-handed ice time as the Blackhawks successfully killed both of LA’s power play chances in the game.
Patrick Kane was held pointless for the first time in December, ending a 14-game point streak.
Bryan Bickell once again skated the lowest ice time total on the roster, getting only 10:09 in the game. He was credited with the primary assist on Saad’s goal, however, and had two hits in 14 shifts.
The Hawks were out-hit 45-30 in the game, but matched the Kings’ physical play at both ends of the rink. In front of Raanta’s strong effort, the Hawks were credited with 13 blocked shots. Four Hawks – Keith, Kruger, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Ben Smith – were credited with two blocks each.
Chicago closes the calendar year at 28-7-7 (63 points) and in first place in the Central Division. They are 15-2-5 at home, and have won seven of their last ten games.