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Kings, Blackhawks face off in playoff rematch

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- The Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks are ready to pick up where they left off last spring.

Two of the top three teams in the Western Conference will face each other Sunday night at United Center for the first time since Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane scored 11:40 into the second overtime of Game 5, in the same arena, to end their 2013 Western Conference Final series.

Each team is finding ways to win without their top goalie, but the results Saturday were split. The Kings, who are still without goalie Jonathan Quick (groin), beat the Ottawa Senators 5-2 at Canadian Tire Centre before the Blackhawks, playing without Corey Crawford (lower body), lost 7-3 to the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre to end a three-game winning streak.

Los Angeles also extended its streak of not allowing a first-period goal to 18 straight games and has a record of 13-1-4 in that span.

"Outstanding stretch here [for the Kings] and the most remarkable stat is 18 straight games without giving up a first-period goal," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "They're winning some big games on the road. [They] lose a top goaltender and their goals-against is as good as anybody's over a long stretch of games here. We know it's going to be a tight game and we have to be better."

Rookie Antti Raanta gets the nod in net again for Chicago, his second set of back-to-back starts this week, but the Kings didn't reveal their starter.

Ben Scrivens hasn't played since Dec. 2, but Kings coach Darryl Sutter usually likes to ride the hot hand in net, and Martin Jones -- who started Saturday -- has a 5-0-0 mark with a 0.99 goals-against average and .967 save percentage helping fill in for missing starter Jonathan Quick (groin).

The game also marks the return of forward Daniel Carcillo, who helped the Blackhawks cruise through the regular season and win the 2013 Stanley Cup. Carcillo, who spent two injury-plagued seasons in Chicago, was traded to the Kings this past summer.

Winding up on the Kings so far has turned out to be another pleasant stop in his career path.

"Anytime that you start the year on a team that has won a Cup in the past, recently, they obviously know what to do and have good leaders in the room," Carcillo said. "Being back playing with [Jeff Carter] and [Mike Richards], we had some success in [Philadelphia] together, so there's some familiarity there. All you can ask for is starting the year on a team that has a chance to win, and this is definitely one of them."

Former Blackhawks forward Colin Fraser, who helped Chicago win a championship in 2010, will not be on the ice for Los Angeles because of concussion symptoms. Kings defenseman Matt Greene, who hasn't played since being activated from the injured reserve list Dec. 10, will likely draw into the lineup in place of Willie Mitchell, who is sick.

Quenneville updated the health status of power forward Bryan Bickell (knee) and said he wasn't ruled out of playing against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, but his most likely return date will be Friday at United Center against the Vancouver Canucks.

Here is how the Kings and Blackhawks might line up Sunday night:


Dwight King - Anze Kopitar - Jeff Carter

Dustin Brown - Jarret Stoll - Justin Williams

Kyle Clifford - Mike Richards - Tyler Toffoli

Dan Carcillo - Trevor Lewis - Jordan Nolan

Jake Muzzin - Drew Doughty

Robyn Regehr - Slava Voynov

Alec Martinez - Matt Greene

Ben Scrivens

Martin Jones

Scratched: Willie Mitchell (sick), Matt Fratin, Linden Vey

Injured: Jonathan Quick (groin), Colin Fraser (concussion protocol)


Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Kris Versteeg - Michal Handzus - Patrick Kane

Brandon Saad - Andrew Shaw - Jeremy Morin

Brandon Bollig - Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Nick Leddy -- Sheldon Brookbank

Antti Raanta

Kent Simpson

Scratched: Michal Rozsival, Michael Kostka

Injured: Bryan Bickell (lower body), Corey Crawford (lower body), Nikolai Khabibulin (lower body)

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