A four-game losing streak brought out the Blackhawks' mean streak.
The Hawks hit almost everything that moved in a Los Angeles uniform Wednesday night as they defeated the Kings 6-3 before a crowd of 12,534 at the United Center.
Tuomo Ruutu started the physical trend when he leveled Kings defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky late in the first period to draw a charging penalty and set off two fights, including one that earned the Hawks' Adam Burish and the Kings' Brad Stuart and Derek Armstrong game misconducts.
Early in the second period, Hawks winger Dustin Byfuglien delivered a clean and hard check to Los Angeles' Raitis Ivanans at center ice that sent the Kings winger flying.
"Those are huge plays," rookie Jonathan Toews said of Ruutu's and Byfuglien's hits. "That's the difference from [Wednesday night] and the last little while. Guys are stepping up and making big plays that make a difference as far as our energy level goes. We have to keep that going and keep building off the momentum."
It was also a night the Hawks' offense put a pasting on Kings goaltenders as they jumped to a 3-0 lead in 14 minutes into the first period.
Ruutu started things off as he took a pass from Burish from behind the Kings' goal and fired the puck past goaltender Jean-Sebastien Aubin at the 3-minute-11-second mark of the first. The goal was Ruutu's sixth of the season and earned Burish his first point in 30 games as he recorded an assist.
The Hawks (15-13-2) struck 10:21 later when Robert Lang passed to linemate Martin Havlat, who sent a shot that Aubin got a piece of but let trickle into the net for a 2-0 Hawks lead. It was Havlat's fourth goal in his eighth game this season.
"It was time to get on the winning track again," Havlat said. "We were trying not to do that many mistakes like we did the four games before that cost us the games. We were a little bit better [Wednesday night] and it was great that we scored so many goals."
Duncan Keith made it 3-0 at 14:06 with his fifth goal of the season. The defenseman received a pass from rookie Patrick Kane and blasted a slap shot past Aubin from between the circles. Kings coach Marc Crawford had seen enough of Aubin and pulled the goalie in favor of Jonathan Quick.
"We played well in some other games and it was little things that were costing us, and [Wednesday night] for the most part we played pretty solid hockey," Keith said. "We realized that this was a big game for us. We had lost four in a row and everybody needed to bring about 5 percent extra to get us over that hump, and it showed."
After Los Angeles cut the lead to 3-1 on former Hawk Michal Handzus' goal, Havlat scored his second of the game to make it 4-1 while the Hawks had a two-man advantage.
Havlat moved in on Quick and scored into the upper-left-hand corner of the net at 5:05 of the second.
The Kings rallied to within 4-3 with goals by Patrick O'Sullivan and Anze Kopitar, but Toews' goal at 7:18 of the third and a Patrick Sharp goal off a breakaway with 2:05 remaining ensured the Hawks' victory.
"We definitely tried to play physical," Ruutu said. "Even the last couple of games, although we lost, we played physical and we didn't play badly. We didn't get the results out of it, but I think when we play physical we're tough to play against."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun