The Chicago Blackhawks finished off their annual Circus Trip in style Saturday night with a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. The first rematch since last spring's Western Conference Finals mostly went Chicago's way, with the big story being the continued dominance of the Vertseeg-Richards-Kane line.
No longer beholden to the almighty power of Joel Quenneville's blender, it appears the 'Hawks have found the groupings that'll carry them for the time being. That's primarily because the second line, made up of Kris Versteeg, Brad Richards and Patrick Kane, has been utterly brilliant over the past few games.
Saturday was no different, with Richards scoring two goals, Versteeg dishing two assists and Kane playing a big part in the success of his linemates. We had not really seen a single group of forwards build rhythm this season due to the ongoing changes to the lines, but with this one, it appears the team has found some reliable offensive production.
Those days of worrying about guys like Richards and Steegs certainly seem far away at this point.
The first goal against the Kings actually came from the third line, with Daniel Carcillo notching his third score of the season off a pass from Bryan Bickell. Richards would get his first of the game before the Kings responded with Jordan Nolan's first goal of the year to cut the lead to 2-1.
The 'Hawks quickly rebounded at that point, with the next few minutes putting steady pressure on Jonathan Quick in net. Eventually, Kane found his way through to defense to set up Michal Rozsival, who dished a pass across the ice to a wide open Richards for his second goal of the game.
From there, the defense just needed to hold on, and with a Kings team struggling to sustain possession in the opponent's zone, that wasn't much of challenge. Brandon Saad scored the final insurance goal on an empty net with about two minutes remaining, leaving the final moments of the game to highlight some failed chances and a bit of fisticuffs.
Carcillo made his presence felt again late in the game, getting into a scuffle with Nolan that ended with the winger giving the L.A. crowd a friendly wave:
Carcillo gives a wave to the L.A. crowd after that last fight. Ha. https://t.co/AcjPfJGaWE— Second City Hockey (@2ndCityHockey) November 30, 2014
So that's our final memory of the Circus Trip. Six games, six cities, five wins. I think everyone will be pretty thrilled about that. I'm sure we'll reflect more on this one soon, but for now, it's hard not to feel good on this Saturday night.