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Kings-Blackhawks Preview

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Kings-Blackhawks Preview

GAME: Los Angeles Kings (16-8-1) at Chicago Blackhawks (9-14-0).

TIME: Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. EST.

Although the Chicago Blackhawks have lost three straight, Mark Bell can't be blamed for that.

Bell looks to score a goal for the seventh consecutive game as the Blackhawks face the Los Angeles Kings at the United Center.

Bell scored Chicago's lone goal in a 3-1 loss to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks on Sunday.

That gave Bell goals in six straight games with eight total in that span. The streak is the longest in the NHL this season and is four short of Bobby Hull's team record set during the 1968-69 season.

The Blackhawks began their six-game road trip with wins over Calgary and Edmonton, giving them a season-best three straight victories. However, they lost to Vancouver and the Kings before Sunday's loss to Anaheim.

"The last few games have slipped away from us," said Bell, the team leader with 10 goals and 18 points. "We just didn't have enough battle to score the big goals."

With eight goals, Bell has accounted for half of the Blackhawks' scoring during his streak. During the team's three-game slide, Bell has scored three goals while Kyle Calder is the only other player to register one.

"Obviously they're coming in bunches, I hope this bunch lasts longer than six games," he said.

The Blackhawks have struggled on the power play during their losing streak, going 1-for-14. In two losses this season to the Kings, they are 1-for-12 with the man advantage with Bell scoring the only goal.

The Kings have lost two of their last three games. In each of them, coach Andy Murray has rotated goaltenders Jason LaBarbera and Mathieu Garon.

Murray's shuffling has produced mixed results as LaBarbera has lost twice while Garon earned the win.

Garon has won four straight and six of his last seven starts while LaBarbera has lost his last two.

LaBarbera dropped his last start, 5-2 to visiting Detroit on Monday, stopping 24 of 28 shots.

"They simply outworked us and were more physical than us," Murray said. "Their veteran players were very good tonight, and ours weren't."

The Kings continue to ride the success and failure of their top line.

Pavol Demitra, Alexander Frolov, and Craig Conroy, held pointless against Detroit, has produced two goals and seven assists in the team's eight losses and has been held without a point in four of them. The trio has 31 goals and 78 points in 15 of the Kings' 16 wins.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 29): Kings - 33 points, 1st place, Pacific Division. Blackhawks - 18 points, 3rd place, 20 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Kings - Frolov, 13 goals; Demitra, 22 assists and 34 points; Sean Avery, 75 PIM. Blackhawks - Bell, 10 goals and 18 points; Calder, 12 assists; Matthew Barnaby, 62 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 29): Kings - Power play: 15.3 percent (25 for 163), 21st in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.3 percent (129 for 153), tied for 7th. Blackhawks - Power play: 13.4 percent (19 for 141), 27th. Penalty killing: 82 percent (155 for 189), tied for 17th.

GOALTENDERS: Kings - Garon (8-4-0, 0 SO, 2.96 GAA); LaBarbera (8-4-1, 2.72). Blackhawks - Nikolai Khabibulin (7-13-0, 3.33); Craig Anderson (2-1-0, 4.55).

SEASON SERIES: Kings, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 26; Kings, 3-2. At Los Angeles, Frolov had a goal and assist and Luc Robitaille scored the game-winner in the second period.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Kings - 6-4-1 on the road; Blackhawks - 4-4-0 at home.


Associated Press
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