BLACKHAWKS (13-7-3) at KINGS (11-7-4)
TV: WGN, FS-W (HD)
Chicago 5-5-0; Los Angeles 5-3-2
First of four meetings. The Blackhawks swept last season's series and have won six consecutive games against the Kings since the last Los Angeles victory, which came 2-1 in a shootout on Nov. 28, 2009 at Staples Center.
Chicago's annual "Circus Trip" comes to an end with Saturday's game in Los Angeles. Despite losing three straight at one point, including getting absolutely blown out by Edmonton, the Blackhawks still lead the Central Division and have a chance to finish this trek with a .500 record after coming from behind for a wild 6-5 win in Anaheim on Friday.
Since opening its road trip with an impressive four-goal win in Vancouver, it had been straight downhill for Chicago heading into Friday's action. The Blackhawks were outscored 14-4 in losses to the Flames and Oilers, then got blanked 1-0 by the Sharks. They quickly fell behind 2-0 and 3-1 in the first period against the Ducks, and faced a 4-2 deficit after 40 minutes. But Patrick Sharp
scored twice in the third to complete a hat trick and Jonathan Toews
' power-play goal with 10:38 remaining turned out to be the winner as the Hawks put an impressive rally together.
"It's big," Sharp said. "We talked going into the third period that it was going to feel good battling back and clawing to get back into the game. Good teams, they don't change the way they play, whether it's 4-0 for or against. Big win for us."
Unlike its opponent in this game, Los Angeles had an extra day off Friday for the players to digest their Thanksgiving meals. The turkey probably didn't taste nearly as good, though, after the Kings allowed a two-goal lead in the third period to get away Wednesday night in what became a 3-2 overtime loss to the Stars. The game-tying goal to Loui Eriksson was scored with 20.3 seconds left in regulation and Steve Ott beat Jonathan Quick
at 2:56 of overtime. The Kings had built their lead on second-period goals by Mike Richards
and Kevin Westgarth
scored 36 seconds apart.
"To me, it's pretty simple. You don't take chances that you don't need to take, and you play the same way but you don't take unnecessary chances. If you do that, you give yourself a good chance to maybe get an insurance goal," defenseman Rob Scuderi
said. "We didn't get the insurance goal, and eventually we coughed up the lead, and we'll have to bounce back on Saturday."
Toews had a pair of goals in the Blackhawks win' Friday and added 3 assists for a 5-point effort. He now has 12 goals for the season while Sharp has 10 following his hat trick. … Richards is on a tear during his first season with the Kings. He has 8 goals in as many games, including at least one in each of his last five games.
Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook
returned from a left leg injury to play Friday after missing the first four games of the road trip. … Los Angeles has forwards Scott Parse
(lower body) and Dustin Penner
(hand) and defenseman Alec Martinez
(upper body) on injured reserve.
Sharp led the Blackhawks with 4 goals against the Kings last season, while goalie Corey Crawford
won all three of his starts. … Los Angeles had been 7-0-0 when leading after two periods this season prior to Wednesday's loss in Dallas.
Los Angeles begins a stretch in which it plays four straight and six of its next seven on home ice, while Chicago will play 18 of its next 24 games at United Center after finishing this road trip.