NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, February 3rd (All times Eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (33-10-14) at Los Angeles Kings (30-21-6), 10:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Blackhawks will try to sweep the season series against the struggling Los Angeles Kings on Monday, when last spring's Western Conference final combatants clash in the City of Angels.
The Blackhawks, who won their second Stanley Cup title in four seasons last spring, downed the Kings in five games during the conference finals and are 2-0 against L.A. in 2013-14. Monday's test marks the first encounter between the clubs this season in Los Angeles, as Chicago recorded home wins over the Kings on Dec. 15 and 30.
The Kings enter Monday's showdown mired in a major offensive funk, having scored only three goals over the past three games. Anze Kopitar has all three of the team's goals during that span on 21 shots, while the rest of the Kings have no goals on 163 shots in the past six games. The last Kings player other than Kopitar to score was defenseman Robyn Regehr when he tallied in a 5-3 loss at Columbus on January 21.
L.A. was shut out for the third time in five games on Saturday, as the Philadelphia Flyers recorded a 2-0 road win at the Staples Center. Steve Mason made 35 saves for the visitors, as the Kings failed to score despite outshooting the Flyers by a 35-13 margin.
Jonathan Quick allowed both goals on 13 shots in the Kings' third straight defeat. Quick is just 1-6-1 over his last eight games despite allowing two goals or less five times during that span.
"You have to score to win, you can't win with nothing. You can't get frustrated; you can't allow guys who are playing well to get frustrated, you have to see if they can work their way out of it," said Los Angeles head coach Darryl Sutter.
Saturday's setback dropped the Kings to 1-7-1 over their last nine games and the club is now only three points ahead of Vancouver for third place in the Pacific Division. The Canucks also currently hold the last of eight playoff spots in the Western Conference.
L.A. is playing the third test of a four-game homestand tonight. The Kings are 16-9-3 as the host this season, but have dropped three in a row at the Staples Center.
Chicago also enters Monday's test on a down note, as the defending champs have lost five of their last six games. However, the Blackhawks have managed to record a point in three straight tests, posting a 1-0-2 record at the start of a seven-game road trip.
The Blackhawks won't play another home game until after the NHL returns from its break for the Winter Olympics and that test on March 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins will be played outdoors at Soldier Field. Chicago's next game at the United Center isn't until March 4 against Colorado,
San Jose edged the visiting Blackhawks in a 2-1 shootout decision on Saturday. Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton all scored in the game's decisive phase to give the Sharks the extra point.
Brandon Saad scored the lone goal in regulation for the Blackhawks. Corey Crawford turned aside 38-of-39 shots through 65 minutes of action, but Chicago fell for the sixth time in their last seven games that have reached the shootout phase.
"It's a tough loss, I think. We played well," Crawford said. "They're a good team in their building. We definitely had a chance again to win tonight -- a couple of chances late to win the game, we've just got to figure it out in the shootout."
Chicago is second in the NHL with 80 points, but is only one point in front of St. Louis for the Central Division lead.
The Blackhawks have won four of the past five regular-season meetings in the series against the Kings and have claimed five of six in L.A.
02/03 11:07:45 ET