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Blackhawks edge Kings 3-2; one game away from tying NHL record

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery (30) stops Los Angeles Kings' JustWilliams (14) front goal first period an NHL hockey game

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery (30) stops Los Angeles Kings' Justin Williams (14) in front of the goal in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/John Smierciak)

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Updated: March 19, 2013 6:29AM



The Blackhawks were flabbergasted Friday night to see their captain, Jonathan Toews, drop the gloves and fight. Sunday afternoon brought them another strange sight — defenseman Brent Seabrook taking a perfect pass from Duncan Keith and sniping in a sharp-angle goal from the left side of the net.

“We were laughing because it’s not too often you see [Seabrook] on his off side, on the doorstep with an empty net, but [Keith] made a heck of a play there to find him,” Toews said. “It got us going right off the start. Those two guys were huge for us.”

Sparked by Seabrook and Keith on both ends of the ice — taking shots and blocking others — the Hawks raced out to an early three-goal lead and held on for dear life in a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings.

The win stretched their season-opening streak to 15 games without a regulation loss. The Hawks’ 12-0-3 record passes the 1943-44 Montreal Canadiens and ties the 1984-85 Edmonton Oilers for the second-longest point streak to start a season. The 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks went 16 games, at 12-0-4. All three of those teams went on to win the Stanley Cup.

And while Toews and Patrick Sharp scored the Hawks’ other two goals, it was the blue-line tandem of Seabrook (one goal, one assist) and Keith (two primary assists) that sparked the offense in this one. Four minutes after Keith’s screaming tape-to-tape pass to Seabrook, he sent another one to Toews, who nudged it past the goal line after first tipping it into the post.

Keith actually had been coaching up Toews — he of the 151 career goals — on how to properly score a goal.

“We’ve tried that many times before, and I always seem to have my stick in the wrong spot,” Toews said. “He gave me a hard time, saying he wants me to give him my backhand. So I gave him that option, and he had his head up the whole way. I’ll give him credit; it worked out.”

Coach Joel Quenneville said he hasn’t given his defensemen any specific directive to get more involved in the offense, but he’s happy to see it. Nick Leddy and Niklas Hjalmarsson also had goals in the previous two games.

“It’s huge,” Seabrook said. “We can’t rely on our forwards every night to score goals.

‘‘They’ve got good defensemen that can make plays on our forwards, so we’ve got to help when we can and get shots through and try to force some rebounds [or] have it go in the net. Whatever it may be, we’ve got to help out in that area, too.”

Seabrook helped out in a less pleasant way later in the first period. He stepped in front of a Trevor Lewis shot that hit him in the, well, midsection and left him flat on the ice before he skated off to the locker room hunched over in obvious pain. Seabrook returned for the start of the second period.

“Whatever it takes,” he said.

Johnny Oduya also took a Jeff Carter shot off the cheek, and he returned.

“It hurts to look at your teammate and see how much pain they’re in when they take a shot like that, but it motivates you and gets everyone into the right frame of mind of what we need to do to win,” Toews said of Seabrook. “When you’ve got a teammate like that laying himself on the line, it inspires your teammates.”

The Kings, after being outshot 32-18 in the first two periods, made things interesting on Mike Richards’ power-play goals in the third period (the Hawks entered the game having yielded only four power-play goals).

But Ray Emery shut the door from there, improving to 5-0 with 25 saves.

“We had a great first 40 minutes,” Quenneville said. “They had a great third period. Clock ran out, which was nice.”



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