CHICAGO – Marty Turco showed why the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks signed him.
The 35-year-old former Dallas Stars goalie made 33 saves, including several key late stops, in Chicago’s 3-1 victory over Los Angeles on Wednesday night.
He also made an impression on the Kings.
“Bottom line is, we couldn’t find a way to get it by Turco,” Los Angeles coach Terry Murray said. “We were getting pucks in, getting shots to the net. We were close. And one of their premier guys, at a critical time, scored the third goal.”
Patrick Sharp was that guy, taking the pressure off Turco when he beat Jonathan Bernier for the insurance goal with 2:05 remaining.
“There were some huge blocks out there, some great slide plays around my net to help me out,” Turco said. “There were certainly some plays that were super close, a couple of bang-bang plays that got to me or missed wide.”
Turco, signed to a one-year contract to replace Antti Niemi in the off-season, allowed only Justin Williams’ first-period goal. The Kings outshot the Blackhawks 15-8 in the third period, pressuring Chicago until Sharp scored his NHL-leading ninth goal of the season.
Turco got a piece of Alexei Ponikarovsky’s shot with 6:20 to play, then heard it clink off a goalpost.
“When we did force them, get them running around a little bit, we got the puck up to the top and they blocked a lot of shots,” Williams said. “They really fronted a lot of pucks, and stopped us from sustaining a lot of pressure because of that.”
“That’s how you’re going to win championships in this league,” said Viktor Stalberg, who scored the winning goal 1:18 into the second period. “Every team in the NHL is playing a defensive-minded hockey game.”
Jake Dowell also scored for Chicago.
Chicago improved to 6-4-1. Los Angeles dropped to 6-3-0 after winning five of its previous six.
The Blackhawks played the final period without forward Marian Hossa, injured midway through the second. Chicago coach Joel Quenneville called it an upper-body injury.
Stalberg made it 2-1 by backhanding the puck over Bernier’s left shoulder off a rebound in the slot.
The teams traded goals in the first period. Dowell, Chicago’s fourth-line centre, beat Bernier with a backhander from the crease at 5:16. Williams answered by one-timing a pass from defenceman Davis Drewiske past Turco at 9:34. Drewiske’s feed caromed off the boards behind the net.
Turco stopped Ryan Smyth’s deft poke of the puck in the slot, and a pair of chances by Ponikarovsky in the third period. Turco also made difficult saves on Smyth and Brad Richardson 18 seconds apart late in the second period. Richardson also missed a half-open net from 10 feet midway through the second.
“Marty really had to keep us in the game there in the latter part of the second and big segments of the third,” Quenneville said.
NOTES: Tomas Kopecky returned to the Chicago lineup after missing a game because of an upper-body injury. … Chicago defenceman Brian Campbell, on injured because of a sprained right knee since early in the preseason, might play as early as Saturday night at Minnesota. … Los Angeles defenceman Drew Doughty missed his fourth game because of a concussion.