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Blackhawks aim for series sweep of Kings

by Davis Harper

KINGS (17-12-2) at BLACKHAWKS (24-3-3)


Last 10: Los Angeles 5-5-0; Chicago 7-3-0

Season series: Monday marks the third and final meeting, with Chicago taking the first two during their historic run to start the season. The Blackhawks beat the Kings 5-2 in their season opener day at Staples Center and again on Feb. 17, when they allowed two late goals but held on for a 3-2 victory.

Big story: When will Los Angeles score another goal? With a 126:14 goal drought dating back to the winner against Phoenix on March 19, many of the Kings’ faithful are hoping their team turns it around, and soon. It won’t be an easy task against the Blackhawks, who own the League’s best record due in large part to a suffocating defense.

Team scope:

Kings: The defending Stanley Cup champions have endured a streaky campaign thus far, and at no time was that more obvious than their recently concluded five-game homestand. Los Angeles started with a three-game win streak over four days in which the Kings outscored opponents 12-4 and gained some breathing room in the Western Conference. Then the drought hit, and the Kings lost back-to-back games to Dallas and Vancouver. Los Angeles outshot opponents 60-34 over that stretch, but couldn’t find the back of the net.

"We're not making it hard enough on the opposing team's goaltenders," captain Dustin Brown said. "We've gone through spurts this year where we've scored a lot of goals, and it was just a result of getting the puck to the net with bodies at the same time. The power play has been a big source of our offense, and we had only one shot (on two opportunities)."

Blackhawks: Chicago is back at the United Center after a four-game road trip. The Blackhawks went 3-1-0, but the lone loss came in Anaheim – the only team challenging Chicago for the West’s top spot – in the trip’s final leg. Chicago took a 2-1 lead into the third period, but Anaheim found its offense in the final 20 minutes, scoring three times to extend its franchise-record 13-game home winning streak.

"It's frustrating, considering we thought we were looking at a 3-1 lead at one point," captain Jonathan Toews said, referring to a play midway through the second period when Brandon Bollig was judged to have kicked the puck into the net. "We have to keep working and doing the right things. We played good enough to win, but made a few mistakes in the last five minutes, and they made us pay for it."

Who’s hot: Toews has four goals and three assists in his past three games, including a shorthanded strike against the Ducks.

Injury report: Willie Mitchell is day-to-day with a knee injury, while Matt Greene’s back injury has him out indefinitely for the Kings. … Marian Hossa did not dress for Chicago’s tilt against Anaheim and is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Patrick Sharp is on the injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

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