(Photo: NHL Youtube)

The Chicago Blackhawks had a 4-1 victory against the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center Saturday night in the final act of their annual “Circus” road trip, where they finished with a 5-1-0 record.

They outscored opponents 23-12 on the trip, which included six road games in nine days–starting with the Calgary Flames Nov. 20 and closing in Los Angeles the 29th.

The second line, which includes the up-until-now so-so Brad Richards and Kris Versteeg as well as Patrick Kane, became a force to be reckoned with on tour.

“They were all really tough opponents and we ended up finding the way we wanted to play for all 60 minutes a lot of the trip,” Versteeg told the Chicago Tribune. “You have to try to prove it every day. It’s not about just going and showing in a two- or three-game span, it’s about trying to do it every day. That’s what the best teams do, they do it all season long.”

Versteeg had two goals and five assists and Richards tallied three goals and one assist, including the game-winner against L.A.–showing strength in this line and a couple of players getting their groove back. Kane had three goals and four assists in the five games.

 

 

 A Crowning Victory

The grand finale of the road adventure seemed a bit like a circus. There was quite a bit of action and pageantry.

The Web was abuzz with trash talk about Daniel Carcillo, former Blackhawk turned King turned New York Ranger (he was a Ranger last year when they fell to the Kings for the Stanley Cup) turned Blackhawk again this year–though he’s now healthy and suspension-free. So, Carcillo (a new dad) opened and closed the game with a bang.

“I don’t want to say a lot,” Richards told Comcast Sportsnet after the L.A. win. “I don’t like talking about those things. When you do, weird things happen.”

Chicago outshot L.A. 25-20 and blocked 13 shots to the Kings’ seven.

The Kings outhit the Blackhawks 34-14. Carcillo took exception to one of those hits, a high elbow from Brayden McNabb. He responded with some hits of his own.

 

 

So, with a wave, the Blackhawks closed their trip.

“It’s great for the confidence. I think we’d been, maybe not questioning ourselves, but we were struggling at the start and it made us think,” Niklas Hjalmarsson told the Tribune. “Now, a lot of players are starting to play really good hockey. We just have to keep bringing the confidence.”

Hawks Fly Past Ducks

Just one day before hitting Los Angeles, Chicago was able to battle a powerful Anaheim Ducks squad and the talented Frederik Andersen in net for another 4-1 victory.

Chicago had five power play opportunities to Anaheim’s two, but neither team was able to capitalize on the advantage. Instead, it was domination with the puck that allowed the Hawks to soar. They outshot the Ducks 38-24 in the game.

Blackhawks Escape Avalanche

On Nov. 26, Chicago edged the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 despite leading in shots 45-29. Penalties proved costly for the Avs, though, as the Blackhawks were 2/6 on the power play while Colorado was 0/2.

The first period was scoreless. Colorado tallied the first goal in the second.

A Downer in Vancouver

A Jannik Hansen hat trick gave the Vancouver Canucks a 4-1 victory over Chicago–the Blackhawks’ lone loss on their trip.

The Blackhawks managed a disappointing 25 shots to Vancouver’s 30.

A Slick Win Against the Oilers

Two goals in seven power plays helped the Blackhawks with their 7-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers Nov. 23. The Hawks outshot their opponents 30-25 for the win.

A Hot Start Against the Flames

Kane scored the game-winner, giving the Blackhawks an optimistic start with their first road game when they took on the Calgary Flames Nov. 20. Despite being outshot 27-22 and giving up six power plays, Chicago pulled out a win.

“We enjoy this trip and enjoy being together,” Kane said. “I think it’s nice coming to Western Canada. We enjoy playing hockey in this environment, where hockey’s like god’s country here. It’s important to start that way. I think we enjoy it. I think for these ‘Circus Trips’ especially you want to take it a game at a time and not worry about what the overall record is going to be at the start. Just take it game by game.”

Game-by-game, the Hawks finished their tour on top and are back home now.

 Status of ‘Sweet Home Chicago’

Back in Chicago, the Blackhawks take on the St. Louis Blues at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday and the Montreal Canadiens at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

While Patrick Sharp has started skating again, he is still out with an injury suffered Nov. 4.

Crawford injured his foot on stairs at a concert and is expected to be out for 2-3 weeks. Scott Darling has been called up from Rockford and Antti Raanta will be in net Wednesday.

 

Carly Mullady grew up needing to know more about icing than its deliciousness on cupcakes. She's the lone daughter of four children, with a father who was among the last cut from the Midwest tryouts for the 1980 Miracle on Ice Olympic team. And she knows very little matches the thrill that happens from puck-drop to handshakes. A rink didn’t return to her hometown until she was gone, but she’s been able to see two younger brothers on the ice. She's their feistiest fan. Her other hockey loyalty lies with the Blackhawks--whether it's meant seeing games for $8 with student IDs when the Madhouse didn’t have much of a temper at all, or dancing to Chelsea Dagger at standing room only--there’s something magical about a roaring anthem, the Indianhead sweater, and the Original Six. A former journalist and current editor, she carries a penchant for excitement (and maybe even fighting) with a resume that includes working for Chicago-area newspapers, and television, including The Jerry Springer Show, as well as NBCUniversal in New York. After East Coast living and a return to the Chicago area, the new Mrs. is giving Graceland a go with her Southern Gent, who now shares her adoration of the game, and their rescue dog, Doc Holliday. Other interests include Cubs, Bears, Illini, Crimson Tide, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, baking a mean pineapple upside-down cake, Kate Spade accessories, and a properly coordinated cardigan for every ensemble.

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