Kings-Blackhawks Preview

A dramatic hat trick from Patrick Kane vaulted the Chicago

Blackhawks back to the Stanley Cup finals at the expense of the Los

Angeles Kings last spring.

The star right wing looks more than capable of another big

performance Sunday night at the United Center as the Blackhawks and

red-hot Kings meet for the first time since the Western Conference

finals.

Chicago (23-7-5) ousted Los Angeles from the playoffs in five

games in June on its way to a second Stanley Cup in four years.

Kane, who earned the Conn Smythe Award, capped his Game 5 hat

trick with a goal in the second overtime for a 4-3 victory.

The Blackhawks won all three home games in that series,

improving to 10-2-1 over the last 13 home meetings with Los

Angeles.

Kane will likely play a part in continuing that success.

He has 10 goals and 21 assists with at least one point in 20 of

the past 21 games, including 15 points during a nine-game run at

home.

Kane has tallied 16 points during an eight-game streak overall,

but his two goals weren’t enough in a 7-3 loss at Toronto on

Saturday that ended Chicago’s three-game win streak.

“Not the start we wanted, getting the penalties and getting down

a goal, then probably thinking too much offense as the game went

on,” Kane said. “The start wasn’t good, especially the first 10

minutes. Three penalties kind of takes you right out of the

game.

“We tried to fight back and get ourselves into it but it was too

little too late.”

A return home should help the Blackhawks, who are 6-1-1 in their

last eight games there while averaging 4.6 goals and scoring 13 in

winning the past two contests.

Patrick Sharp has been a catalyst over that stretch, totaling

seven goals and seven assists. He seems likely to continue that

production at the United Center since he has 11 goals and 21 points

in 15 career meetings with the Kings, including last spring’s

conference finals.

Captain Jonathan Toews has 16 points in 14 home games against

Los Angeles (22-7-4), assisting on two of Kane’s goals in Game 5

including the series clincher.

The Kings, though, enter this meeting as one of the league’s

hottest teams. They have outscored opponents 23-7 during a six-game

win streak overall and are 7-0-1 in their last eight on the

road.

They haven’t won seven in a row since a nine-game run Jan.

21-Feb. 6, 2010.

Los Angeles extended its current string by scoring three

consecutive goals in the opening period en route to a 5-2 win at

Ottawa on Saturday.

“We just keep winning,” said Jarret Stoll, who scored in the

third period. “There’s just a bunch of things going right now. We

just have to make sure we keep on top of it.”

Anze Kopitar scored twice against the Senators, giving him four

goals and one assist over the past four games.

He didn’t fare too well against Chicago in the playoffs, getting

two points in the series finale after being held without a point

through the first four games.

Rookie Martin Jones made 37 saves Saturday to win his fifth

start in as many games, posting a remarkable .967 save percentage.

He could give way to Ben Scrivens with games on back-to-back days

despite that success. Scrivens has allowed two goals or fewer in 11

straight starts.