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Kukkonen scores 57 seconds into overtime to lead Blackhawks past Kings 3-2

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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Kukkonen scores 57 seconds into overtime to lead Blackhawks past Kings 3-2

The Canadian Press
By:

Chicago defenceman Lasse Kukkonen scored 57 seconds into overtime to earn the Blackhawks a 3-2 win over Los Angeles in a matchup of the conference's two worst teams.

Martin Havlat and Jeff Hamilton had the other goals for Chicago, which has the longest current championship drought among the NHL's original six teams. The Kings have never won a Stanley Cup since joining the league in 1967.

Los Angeles is the only team out West with a worse record than the Blackhawks. The Kings have allowed the most goals in the conference, while Chicago has scored the fewest. The Blackhawks already have used 14 rookies this season. The Kings have employed five goaltenders.

"This was a game of bottom dwellers," Chicago centre Bryan Smolinski said. "We've gone through a lot of injuries and a lot of adversity.

"So it has been hard. We're just trying to win hockey games. We don't care about the Kings. They have their own problems."

Nikolai Khabibulin made 31 saves for the Blackhawks, who have won two in a row after losing 10 straight.

Alexander Frolov and newly acquired Jamie Lundmark scored for Los Angeles, both on fluke bounces. The Kings have lost 10 of 11 and five straight at home. Their 41 points are the fewest in the conference and four shy of Chicago.

Lundmark, playing in his second game since being acquired from Calgary for Craig Conroy, was credited with the tying goal with 12:51 left. He chipped the puck away from defenceman Jassen Cullimore in the left corner and Cullimore retrieved it, but inadvertently banked it into the net off Khabibulin.

"It was definitely big for me," Lundmark said. "It's been a rough season so far in the goal department, to get one like that was big.

"Obviously, it was a lucky goal but I'll take it."

Chicago pulled out the win when Denis Arkhipov got the puck from Tuomo Ruutu in the right corner and fed it out to the slot, where Kukkonen beat Sean Burke for his fifth goal and first in 13 games.

"We tried to get it deep, and Arkhipov was yelling when I was going by the net. He just made a great pass," Kukkonen said.

Smolinski won all 13 of his faceoffs in the first two periods and 16 of 21 overall against his former team.

The Blackhawks began their seven-game road trip with a league-worst power-play percentage of 10.9, against a penalty-killing unit that was the second-worst in the league at 77.4 per cent. Kings captain Mattias Norstrom was serving an interference penalty when Hamilton put Chicago ahead 2-1 at 10:29 of the second period.

Frolov and Havlat traded goals 77 seconds apart early in the first period. Frolov was credited with his 26th when his intended pass for Michael Cammalleri from behind the net banked in off the chest of defenceman James Wisniewski. Havlat then flipped his 16th goal over Burke's right shoulder from the low slot after Brian Willsie and Lubomir Visnovsky fanned on clearing attempts.

"The key was not letting them get their momentum going," Smolinski said. "I know they've got some skilled guys and some great veteran leadership.

"But we kept them at bay and played a good solid road game, and were fortunate enough to get that last break."

Notes: Kings rookie C Anze Kopitar lost all nine of his faceoffs through the first two periods and was 1-for-11 overall . . . This was the first meeting this season between the Kings and Blackhawks, who will face each other three more times in an 18-day span during March . . . Chicago RW Radim Vrbada came in with seven goals in 134 shots on net for a 5.22 shooting percentage - the lowest among players who have taken at least 100 shots . . . Kings D Aaron Miller has played 132 games since his last goal, a drought that began after he beat Burke on Nov. 27, 2003, at Phoenix. Miller hasn't scored at home since April 4, 2002.

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Kukkonen scores 57 seconds into overtime to lead Blackhawks past Kings 3-2