After being one of the worst franchise's in the NHL the last few seasons, the Chicago Blackhawks enjoyed a resurgence behind one of the league's best records in November. They appear to have taken several steps back, however, as this month has been a major disappointment.
Chicago looks to end its season-high four-game losing streak and win for the first time in December when it hosts the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday.
The Blackhawks (14-13-2) have not been to the playoffs since 2002, and averaged just 65 points the last three seasons. They were tied with Edmonton for the league's fifth-worst record in 2006-07.
Chicago got things turned around early this season, as it cruised to the NHL's fourth-best record in November at 8-3-2. With 30 points through the end of last month, the Blackhawks were tied with five other teams for the fourth-most in the league and trailed Central Division-leading Detroit by six points.
Things could not be going much worse this month, though. The Blackhawks are the only team in the league without a point in December, and they are now in last place in the Central, 16 points back of the first-place Red Wings.
"We've got to stay together and stay up," Chicago coach Denis Savard said after Sunday's 3-2 loss to Calgary. "The effort is there. We've got to make our own luck, but it's not about effort, it's not about chances. We'll get out of this and in the long run, it will be better off for us."
The Blackhawks have been outscored 14-8 during this month's four-game skid.
Rookies Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews helped lead the Blackhawks earlier this season, but they have been ineffective lately.
Kane leads Chicago with 21 assists and 28 points, but has just one assist during the slide. Toews is second on the team with 11 goals, but has only one this month.
Nikolai Khabibulin made 26 saves on Sunday, and has posted a 3.40 goals-against average in losing his last three games after going 3-0-1 with a 1.22 GAA in his previous four.
Khabibulin hopes to get back on track as he faces a Kings team he has dominated over the last decade.
Since Feb. 18, 1997, Khabibulin is 15-5-0 with a 1.81 GAA and six shutouts against Los Angeles. He has twice as many shutouts against the Kings than any other opponent in that span. Khabibulin was in net for all four of Chicago's games against Los Angeles last season, going 3-1-0 with a 1.72 GAA and one shutout.
The Kings (12-16-2) are tied with Phoenix for the worst record in the Western Conference, but have won two of their last three games after managing just two victories in their previous 11.
Los Angeles beat Vancouver 4-2 on Monday, and is looking to win consecutive games for the first time since a season-high four-game run Oct. 19-27.
Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown each scored their 14th goal of the season on Monday, tying them with Michael Cammalleri for the team lead.
Kopitar, who has team highs of 17 assists and 31 points, has five goals and six assists during a career-high seven-game point streak. Brown has six goals and eight assists during his career-best nine-game point streak.
Jean-Sebastien Aubin made 26 saves on Monday to pick up his first win since taking over for Jason LaBarbera, who sustained a rib injury during a goal-mouth scramble against Colorado on Dec. 1. Aubin, who was 0-3-1 with a 3.73 GAA in his previous five appearances, is 2-1-0 with a 3.01 GAA lifetime against the Blackhawks.