The Los Angeles Kings have regained their mojo after a rough stretch in the middle of November and go after a fifth consecutive victory when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night. The Kings sprinted to a 9-1-1 start, but a 1-6-1 slump from November 9-24 knocked them out of first place in the Western Division before allowing five goals during their current streak.
Los Angeles knocked off Washington 5-2 on Thursday before outlasting St. Louis 4-1 with 39 saves from backup goalie Darcy Kuemper just 24 hours later to improve to 3-0-0 with one game left on a difficult road trip. “It was a good hockey game,” Kings coach John Stevens told reporters after his team was outshot 40-28 on Friday. “It was back-to-back against two really good teams that play heavy games. I thought the guys really dug in.” The Blackhawks have gone three games without a win (0-1-2) after dropping a 3-2 shootout decision Saturday against Dallas and is without its No. 1 goaltender Corey Crawford, who was placed on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury. Chicago still owns a point in seven of its last eight contests and leading scorer Patrick Kane has posted 13 points in the past 10 games.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NHL Network, FSN West (Los Angeles), NBCSN Chicago
ABOUT THE KINGS (16-8-3): Jonathan Quick should be back in goal for the finale of the trip after yielding only six goals in his last four outings, but he is 10-15-1 in 26 career regular-season contests against Chicago. Tyler Toffoli recorded three goals in the last two games to push his season total to 13 and tie for the team lead with captain Anze Kopitar, who has scored four times in the last five contests. Drew Doughty boasts five points in the past five outings and fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin, who will play his 400th NHL contest Sunday, has three assists in a three-game span.
ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (12-9-5): Rookie Alex DeBrincat was kept off the scoresheet Saturday but has still posted six points in the last four games and is second on the team with 11 goals - one behind Artem Anisimov. Left wing Brandon Saad recorded his third goal in five games Saturday after managing one over the previous 15 outings while captain Jonathan Toews had an assist for his first point in four contests. Anton Forsberg made 33 saves in the shootout loss Saturday and Jean-Francois Berube could get the nod Sunday after being recalled to replace Crawford on the roster.
1. Los Angeles RW Marian Gaborik needs two goals to reach 400 in his career and is two points shy of 800 in the NHL.
2. Chicago D Cody Franson recorded his first goal in a Blackhawks uniform Saturday after posting six assists in his first 15 games.
3. The Kings have triumphed in four of the last five meetings, winning both matchups in overtime last season.
PREDICTION: Blackhawks 4, Kings 3