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Thibault makes 24 saves to help Hawks beat Kings

CHICAGO (AP) -- The Chicago Blackhawks rode an early lead to victory.

Sergei Berezin and Kyle Calder scored 1:51 apart in the opening
minutes of the first period, and Eric Daze added a goal late in the
second in the Blackhawks' 3-1 victory Sunday night.

On defense, Jocelyn Thibault was sharp, turning aside 24 shots
to help the Blackhawks earn their third straight victory and improve to 6-1-1 in their last eight games.

"It's a lot more fun to play with a 2-0 lead than an 0-2
deficit,'' Thibault said. "We were really ready and wanted that
game.''

Chicago closed to five points behind first-place Detroit in the
Central Division and jumped from 10th to eighth in the Western
Conference. The Blackhawks improved to just 9-12-0 against the
West.

"The way we played tonight it is the type of game we want to
play against Eastern Conference or Western Conference teams,''
Thibault said. "You have to play the same.''

Erik Rasmussen scored for the Kings, who lost for only the
second time in seven games (5-2). Los Angeles' Felix Potvin stopped
17 shots.

"We just weren't good enough at the start,'' Los Angeles coach
Andy Murray said. "Some of our players made poor decisions. We
gave the puck away on the first goal and gave the puck away on the
second goal.''

Chicago went 0-for-3 on the power play and has converted just
one of 37 chances. The Kings were 0-for-5 on the power play.

Los Angeles' Jason Allison, who missed 15 games earlier this
season with a sprained right knee, fell awkwardly after being hit
by Chicago's Mark Bell late in the second period. Although his knee
appeared to be bothering him on the bench, Allison returned and
assisted on Rasmussen's goal.

Murray said the injury doesn't appear to be serious.

"He has those every so often,'' Murray said. "They're kind of
like a stinger -- it's painful. It's just scar tissue they tell us.
Our medical people tell us he can't do any more harm to it.''

Berezin gave Chicago a 1-0 lead just 1:22 in. After taking an
initial shot from the crease, he put his second rebound past Potvin.

Calder made it 2-0 just 1:51 later, sliding in a shot from the
edge of the crease. He was set up when Theo Fleury stole the puck
from Dmitry Yushkevich behind the net and centered it.

Thibault made one of his best saves with six minutes left in the
first. He stopped Joe Corvo, who skated up the slot and took a centering pass from behind the net.

Daze increased the lead to 3-0 with 3:14 left in the second. He
ripped a high shot past Potvin's glove from the right circle after
taking a pass from Steve Sullivan.

Rasmussen spoiled Thibault's shutout bid at 4:02 of the second.
He knocked in a rebound of Jaroslav Modry's shot before Thibault
could cover up.

Game notes
Blackhawks D Jon Klemm missed the game with an injured left
index finger, sustained when he was struck by a puck Friday against
Columbus. He's scheduled to be evaluated on Monday by a hand
specialist. ... Calder has a goal in three straight games. ... Los
Angeles RW Adam Deadmarsh, the team's leading goal scorer with 13,
missed his third straight game due to dizziness. ... The Kings
scored 11 goals in their previous two games heading into Sunday.