RECAP: Los Angeles is Better than Chicago

It started with a bang.

Well, first, it started with a successful Kings penalty kill.

Then! A bang!

Newly acquired Kris Versteeg scored the game's opening goal against his former team. After Luke Schenn and Brayden McNabb fired shots from the point that failed to get through, Versteeg found himself with the puck on his stick in the slot. He immediately fired it past Corey Crawford and the Kings were on top.

Not done yet, the Kings would score again just 18 seconds later. No surprise, then, that Milan Lucic was involved in a pair of goals being notched shortly apart in a game with the Chicago Blackhawks. Thankfully, Lucic found himself on the correct side of things this time. In fact, he scored the second goal!

Just after the faceoff that followed the first goal, Kris Versteeg got things going again. It was his pass that found Milan Lucic wide open on the far wing. Lucic sped into the zone and unleashed a perfect shot over Corey Crawford's shoulder to make it a 2-0 game.

From there, the game - much like the crowd - flattened out. Chicago threatened to score on a handful of power plays but never made anything count. At even strength, the Kings were in complete control until score effects handed Chicago a bucket of shots.

I always wonder what national fans think of the Kings after watching them on NBCSN. Usually those games are complete disasters for the Kings. There was no confusing what happened tonight. The Kings were superior in every way. Their best players outplayed Chicago's best. Jonathan Quick bested Corey Crawford.

It was hard to call the game anything other than disastrous for Chicago, even as the teams played to a scoreless draw for most of the 2nd period. Chicago was still in it, but it didn't feel like it.

Then, Vinny Lecavalier added a nail to the coffin - the Kings had blown a 3-0 lead a game prior, but seemed extremely unlikely to let that happen again. After a net-mouth scramble drew Corey Crawford out of his crease, Trevor Lewis found Lecavalier wide open in the near circle. Lecavalier had all day. He completed a Sudoku puzzle. Then he did the daily crossword, because he is old. Watched an episode of Matlock. Finally, he found the back of the net. 3-0 Kings.

The 3rd period saw the ice tilt toward Jonathan Quick, but the game lacked all of the tension that normally accompanies a Kings/Chicago game. The only real question that remained: would Jon Quick break the all-time shutout record for Americans? Heading into the game, the record was held by Quick, Jon Vanbiesbrouck and Frank Brimsek.

The Kings made him work for it a bit by allowing 16 shots in the 3rd period, but Quick stayed strong. It was one of his most complete performances of the season.

Before he earned his place atop American goaltending history, the Kings had some droughts to end.

First, Dustin Brown picked up his first goal in 16 games. After Jeff Carter hit him with a stretch pass, Brown skated around the most recent pylon to win a Norris - Duncan Keith - and buried a backhand after deking out Crawford. That goal also ended an 11-game pointless streak for Brown.

Then, Tyler Toffoli buried his first goal in 11 games. Toffoli skated down the near boards and idled toward the slot. As Crawford drifted off of the near post, Toffoli picked his spot.

Those two goals ultimately meant little to the game, but might mean a lot to players who found themselves frustrated lately.

Aside from some fun in the playoffs, it's hard to remember a Kings/Chicago regular season game that was this much fun. Probably the Dustin Brown hat trick game back in 2012. As far as measuring sticks go, the Kings' is much, much bigger right now. That might not be true in the middle of May, but after some regular season sourness at the hands of this Chicago team, this feels nice for the time being.

And! How about Jonathan Quick! In direct competition with Braden Holtby and Corey Crawford - probably his two strongest competitors for the Vezina - Quick has been the better goalie. Tonight he was excellent, and all of the national analysts were quick to note that they think he's playing the best hockey he can play. His Vezina candidacy might not get a better shot in the arm than it did tonight on NBCSN. It still seems like Holtby has had this locked up since November, but Quick's long-shot candidacy may have just become a bit shorter.

Shots and Corsis ultimately ended up in favor of Chicago, but that is heavily influenced by the fact that they were trailing for almost all of the game. The Kings clearly were not going to make the same mistakes that plagued their 3rd period against Washington, and were content to play a strong neutral zone game. The goals were bonuses doled out by a bad Chicago defensive effort.

The Kings took the season series from Chicago in resounding fashion with this win. Next, they head to Dallas. Tomorrow night, in fact. Around the same time. The Stars are good. The Kings are tired. This has schedule loss written all over it, but the Kings have been a resilient team in these situations this season.