CHICAGO - After enjoying a comfortable three-goal lead, the Chicago Blackhawks held on to stymie a late rally attempt by the Los Angeles Kings, earning a 3-2 win in front of 21,843 in a Sunday afternoon game at United Center.
By doing so, Chicago (12-0-3) extended its record start to 15 straight games with a point, tying the 1984-85 Edmonton Oilers for the second-best start in NHL history.
The Blackhawks can tie the record - set by the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks - Tuesday night against one of their toughest rivals, the Vancouver Canucks.
Although he showed a few cracks in the final period, Chicago backup goalie Ray Emery turned back 25 of 27 Kings shots, improving to 5-0-0 on the season. It was Chicago's second win over the Kings (5-6-2) this season, having won its season opener 5-2 at Los Angeles on Jan. 19.
After Chicago had jumped out to a commanding 3-0 lead, the Kings finally got on the scoreboard 56 seconds into the third period, when Mike Richards took advantage of a power-play edge to push the puck past Emery. The goal came just 13 seconds after Chicago's Patrick Sharp was sent to the penalty box for hooking.
At 12:50 of the third period, the Kings and Richards once again took advantage of the power-play to close Chicago's lead to 3-2 when Richards tallied his second goal of the game (assist to Justin Williams and Drew Doughty).
It appeared that Chicago's Jonathan Toews had put his team ahead 4-2 with an empty net goal at 18:56 of the final period, but a penalty against teammate Johnny Oduya nullified the goal, setting up yet another power-play for the Kings.
This time, however, Chicago rose to the occasion and killed both the penalty and the Kings' comeback hopes. Chicago improved to 81-76-22 all-time against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Los Angeles looked out of it at the start of the game, both offensively and defensively, and Chicago took immediate advantage, getting off the game's first six shots. The Blackhawks finally hit paydirt at 6:29 of the first period on Brent Seabrook's second goal of the season.
Duncan Keith fed Seabrook a perfect cross-ice pass, and all Seabrook had to do was flick it past out-of-position Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, who did not live up to his surname at all.
Just over four minutes later and on the power play after the Kings were whistled for too many men on the ice, Toews nailed his seventh goal of the season (assists to Keith and Seabrook) to make a 2-0 Chicago edge.
Seabrook was taken to the dressing room with less than five minutes to play after getting hit in the left knee on a slapshot by the Kings' Drew Doughty. Seabrook crumpled to the ice, but play continued for about 15 seconds before officials whistled play dead. He returned in the third period, however.
Chicago kept up the barrage when winger Patrick Sharp (third goal of the season, assisted by Toews and Oduya) pounced on a rebound and buried it past Quick just 56 seconds into the second period to make it a commanding 3-0 lead.
NOTES: Emery started his second consecutive game in goal for Chicago, as Corey Crawford remains hampered by an upper body injury. ... Chicago's next game is Tuesday against the visiting Vancouver Canucks, while Los Angeles pays at Edmonton on the same night. Following Wednesday's game at Calgary, the Kings play 13 of their next 16 games at home.