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Blackhawks aim for season sweep of Kings

by Brian Compton /
BLACKHAWKS (20-17-3) at KINGS (22-15-1)


Last 10: Chicago 4-5-1; Los Angeles 5-5-0.

Season Series: This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams. Chicago is going for a sweep on Monday night having won the first three contests. The squads last faced each other on Dec. 19, when the Blackhawks earned a 3-2 victory at the United Center.

Big Story: A national-television audience will get to see which team can snap a three-game losing streak. The defending Stanley Cup champs were unable snap out of their funk Sunday night due to a 2-1 loss at Anaheim. Chicago peppered Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller with 40 shots -- including 19 in the third period -- but left the Honda Center without any points.

"I think we got better as the game progressed," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "If we play like that in the third, we'll get rewarded. I think that's the way we've got to start games and play throughout games. He made some key saves and he looked good in the net, but we've got to find ways to generate more scoring chances in the first 40 (minutes) than we did."

Team Scope:

Blackhawks: Chicago had more shots on goal in the third period (19) than Anaheim did the entire game (18), but Hiller was simply brilliant on Sunday night and saw to it that the Blackhawks came up empty at the Honda Center. Regardless of who starts for the Kings -- whether it's Jonathan Quick or Jonathan Bernier -- the Blackhawks will have to get off to a faster start and not wait until the third period to turn on the jets.

"We kind of peppered Hiller there," Chicago forward Jack Skille said. "He did his job and stood on his head there. He made a couple of big saves."

Kings: Los Angeles opened 2011 in disappointing fashion Saturday night when they suffered a 1-0 loss at the hands of Antti Niemi and the San Jose Sharks at the Staples Center. Sure, the game could have gone either way, but the Kings are desperate for points in an ever-so-tight Western Conference playoff race. Their opponents will be too when the puck drops on Monday night.

"It was a good game,'' Kings coach Terry Murray said. "That was a very good game. That was a solid effort by both teams. Both teams have been playing a lot. They're coming off three in four (night) and that's five in seven for us. That was intense.”

Who's Hot: Bryan Bickell scored Chicago's lone goal Sunday night. He'll have a crack at a three-game point streak Monday. … Kings defenseman Jack Johnson had two goals and five assists in his last seven games.

Injury Report: Chicago may get an unexpected boost from the early return of captain Jonathan Toews. Originally expected to miss two weeks with a shoulder injury, the team announced last night Toews may play in Los Angeles. … Kings winger Alexei Ponikarovsky is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, while Scott Parse (hip) is out. Defenseman Willie Mitchell is week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

Stat Pack: The Hawks had a season-high 42 hits against the Sharks last Thursday. … Kings center Michal Handzus played in his 800th NHL game on Saturday.

Puck Drop:  "In the second half of the year, every game is going to be tight-checking. It's about the little decisions we made. We just have to build on that. That's not the result we wanted, that's for sure, but we outplayed them, I thought, for two periods.'' -- Kings captain Dustin Brown after Saturday's 1-0 loss to San Jose
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