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Kings have blanked Blackhawks' Kane, but stay wary

by Curtis Zupke

LOS ANGELES -- Darryl Sutter's press conferences are known for awkward silences and long pauses. The Los Angeles Kings coach isn't chatty on a lot of days, but he perked up Monday morning when asked about limiting Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane.

Kane has been held scoreless in the first three games of the Western Conference Final, which the Kings lead 2-1 going into Game 4 at Staples Center on Monday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN). Kane was a combined minus-4 in Games 2 and 3, but Sutter and the Kings don't need to be reminded that he is a sleeping bear they expect to wake.

"Kane's a scary guy," Sutter said. "We talk about it all the time. The more you play him, the more you know it's coming somewhere. We're very familiar with him and we're very respectful of what he brings to the team. You can say he's been kept off [the score sheet]. But we've done a good job against him. He's had some brilliant opportunities, and those guys like that, they only need those one or two, so we have to be even more aware of him."

Kane had the series-clinching goal against the Kings in double overtime of last season's conference final and possesses the darting, skilled game that would seem to cut through Los Angeles' defense. Kane had a prime opportunity in Game 3 when he got loose in the slot for two shots that goalie Jonathan Quick stopped, but the Kings have managed to largely quiet those chances.

"We've got to keep playing him the same way," defenseman Drew Doughty said. "We've got to play him very hard. We can't give him a lot of space. He'll try to find speed and ice underneath, and just weave his way into the zone and create offensive chances that way. We just need to stay tight with him. We've been doing a good job, but we know he's going to play his best game tonight, so we're going to have to pay special attention to him.

"We want to hit him hard. I think that's the way you take him out of his game, is play him physical, and we need to continue to do that."

For a team that has looked more like a Stanley Cup contender, the Kings find themselves in a rare position. A win would give them a 3-1 series lead, which they haven't had since the Cup Final against the New Jersey Devils in 2012.

Center Anze Kopitar finished a reporter's question about playing with a series lead when he said "something we're not used to."

"We do realize we can push them toward the edge with a good performance tonight," Kopitar said. "Nobody's thinking about that. We're just thinking about what we've got to do and how we have to play. We certainly realize they're going to come with a little bit of an edge and good push right off the start, and we're going to have to be ready for it.

"I think it's safe to say they're going to come out swinging."

The Kings had full participation at the skate, and centers Mike Richards and Jarret Stoll were flip-flopped on the third and fourth lines, something Sutter has experimented with in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Defenseman Robyn Regehr came out to skate at the end. He is recovering from a knee injury.

Chicago did not skate.

Here is the Kings' projected lineup:

Marian GaborikAnze KopitarDustin Brown

Tanner PearsonJeff CarterTyler Toffoli

Dwight KingJarret StollJustin Williams

Kyle CliffordMike RichardsTrevor Lewis

Jake MuzzinDrew Doughty

Willie MitchellSlava Voynov

Alec MartinezMatt Greene

Jonathan Quick

Martin Jones

Scratched: Colin Fraser, Brayden McNabb, Andrew Bodnarchuk, Jeff Schultz, Linden Vey, Andy Andreoff, Jordan Nolan, Jean-Francois Berube

Injured: Robyn Regehr (knee)

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