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Kings hope to rebound against Hawks

by Brian Hedger
KINGS (31-25-12) AT BLACKHAWKS (37-25-7)


Last 10: Los Angeles 4-5-1; Chicago 6-4-0.

Season Series: This will be the fourth and final meeting of the regular season between the two Western Conference teams, with Chicago winning the first game in Los Angeles 2-1 on Nov. 26 and the Kings taking the next two behind a pair of shutouts by goalie Jonathan Quick. Los Angeles won 2-0 in Chicago on Dec. 28 and then downed the Hawks 4-0 on Feb. 25 at Staples Center. Andrew Brunette and Jonathan Toews are the only Chicago players to score on the Kings this season and they came in that first meeting.

Big Story: The Hawks and Kings come into this game on opposite ends of the spectrum after similar games they each were part of Friday night. Chicago managed to eke out a 4-3 come-from-behind victory at home against the New York Rangers by scoring three goals in the last seven minutes of the game, while the Kings coughed up a late lead in Detroit by allowing two goals in the last four minutes of regulation to lose by an identical 4-3 score. The Blackhawks will still likely be without Jonathan Toews (concussion), their star captain and top center, but are keeping their heads above water with a 5-4-0 mark in the nine straight games he's missed. The Kings have now dropped two straight after winning three in a row following the Feb. 27 expiration of the NHL trade deadline – keeping them clumped with Calgary, San Jose and Colorado in a tight race for the last playoff spot in the West.

Team Scope:

Kings: It doesn't get much tougher to take than the way the Kings let Friday night's game in Detroit slip away. After Dwight King swatted home a rebound with just 5:54 left in regulation to take a 3-2 lead, it looked like L.A. would escape Joe Louis Arena with a big two points in the Kings' quest to qualify for the playoffs in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.  Instead, Valtteri Filppula tied it a little less than two minutes later and then Johan Franzen found Darren Helm for a beautiful tip-in goal in front with just 1:13 left to play for the eventual game-winner. The Kings have dropped two straight games, come to Chicago just as hungry for points and also need to erase that Detroit loss as quickly as

"It was a tough last five minutes of the game," King said. "Every loss at this point of the season, it's tough. It isn't pretty, the race that we're in. We didn't make it any better for ourselves, but no
matter what it hurts to lose."

Blackhawks: On the other side of the spectrum reside the Blackhawks, who are feeling pretty good about themselves after potting three late goals in the third period against Henrik Lundqvist to beat the Rangers on Friday night.  Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya and Patrick Kane all scored in the third period to help their team earn a big two points toward the Hawks' playoff situation – which finds them sitting sixth in the West just a handful of points ahead of Phoenix and behind Central Division rival Nashville. Ray Emery will get his fifth straight start in net, while the Hawks will try to get something going against Quick after getting blanked by him two times in a row.

"We saw one of the best in the League (Friday) night (in Lundqvist) and those are the kinds of goals you have to score," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "You need traffic, you need shots that get through and you need second opportunities. They don't have to be pretty goals to get you on the board."

Who's Hot: Anze Kopitar has a six-game points streak going in which he's scored three goals and added four assists for the Kings; Sharp has finished with multi-point outings in two of the last three games, while Marian Hossa has points in 10 of the past 13 games and leads the Hawks with 17 multi-point contests.

Injury Report: Simon Gagne (upper body) and Scott Parse are both on injured reserve for Los Angeles; Toews (upper body/concussion) and defenseman Steve Montador (upper body/concussion) will both be out for Chicago.

Stat Pack: The Kings are 17-3-5 when Mike Richards records a point and have killed 26 straight penalties dating back to Feb. 22 at Colorado; In 12 appearances at the United Center this season, Emery as a 10-0-1 record.

Puck Drop: Friday night's 4-3 home victory against New York was the 180th straight sellout for the Hawks at the United Center, including regular season and postseason games. It set a new franchise record and dates back to March 30, 2008.

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