At the start of this season, the penalty kill was the bane of the Chicago Blackhawks’ existence. It was porous, it was unreliable, it was so unlike 2012-13.

But it’s been much better as of late, looking more like last season than the beginning of this one. And on Wednesday night, that once-maligned penalty kill proved to be the Blackhawks’ savior.

Corey Crawford stopped all 29 shots he saw, and the Blackhawks’ kill went 5-for-5 in a 2-0 victory over the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center. It was a big victory for the Blackhawks, who are now 3-0-2 on this road trip and just one point (84) behind the Western Conference-leading Ducks (85).

The Blackhawks were without Johnny Oduya, who is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Coach Joel Quenneville said he’s unsure if Oduya will play against Phoenix on Friday, but he doubts Oduya’s injury will affect him going to the Olympics in a few days. Marian Hossa had the game-winning goal and an assist for the Blackhawks. Jonathan Toews’ goal with 2:31 remaining in regulation gave the Blackhawks a 2-0 advantage they wouldn’t relinquish.

But this night was as much about the goals the Blackhawks prevented as the ones they scored. The Ducks had five power plays, including 40 seconds of a 5-on-3 in the first period when the Blackhawks were under Duck-shot siege. The Ducks held a 15-9 shots edge by the end of the first period, with most coming off two power plays in the opening 20 minutes.

The kills, indeed, were pivotal.

“They were gigantic,” Quenneville said. “The 5-on-3 kill there, with the looks they got, getting through it was huge. Crow made some key saves, we had some blocks and fortunate bounces, but that was a big part for us.”

It was that much more impressive, given Oduya’s one of the team’s bigger killers. Marcus Kruger logged 5:31 of penalty kill time, and Sheldon Brookbank and Michal Rozsival also pitched into the cause.

“Obviously (Oduya’s) a big part of our D core and the penalty kill as well,” Duncan Keith said. “any time you’re missing a guy like that, it’s nice to see others step up. Rosie did a good job, Brooksie… we have a lot of depth, and it showed tonight.”

Toews said the Blackhawks are just doing the little things on the kill that they weren’t doing earlier this season.