Kings-Blackhawks Preview

Only on the rare occasion do the Chicago Blackhawks fail to

record at least a point.

The same can be said of Patrick Kane.

Kane puts his career-best 14-game point streak on the line

Monday night when the Blackhawks try to send the visiting Los

Angeles Kings to their first three-game skid in nearly a year.

The reigning Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks (27-7-7) are again

among the league’s elite, leading the Central Division and battling

for the NHL’s best record.

Chicago has lost just once in regulation in its last 11 games

(7-1-3), including a 5-0-2 mark at home – where it hasn’t lost

before overtime since Dec. 3.

A third straight victory was within their grasp Saturday in St.

Louis, but the Blackhawks squandered a two-goal lead in the final

3:51 of regulation before falling 6-5 in a shootout. Kane had a

goal and an assist in Chicago’s second three-goal first period in

two nights, while Patrick Sharp continued his torrid scoring with

his 22nd goal.

”Of course it’s frustrating. We got a point, so I guess that’s

one positive you can take from it,” Kane said.

Kane hasn’t been held without a point since Nov. 29, tallying

eight goals and 17 assists during those 14 games.

He’s recorded at least one point in 26 of 27 contests, including

an assist in Chicago’s 3-1 victory over Los Angeles on Nov. 25 in

the teams’ first meeting since the Blackhawks eliminated the Kings

in June in the Western Conference finals.

Sharp’s goal was his sixth in three games and he should be happy

to see the Kings (25-10-4) again. The left wing has 12 goals and 22

points in 16 career home meetings, including the 2013 conference

finals.

Captain Jonathan Toews has three goals and 12 assists over his

last 10 games. He also produces at a high rate at home against Los

Angeles, collecting seven goals and 18 points in 15 contests.

While No. 1 goaltender Corey Crawford recovers from a lower-body

injury, Antti Raanta has been excellent in his place. Raanta had

allowed two goals or fewer in 12 of 13 games before yielding five

on 25 shots Saturday. He stopped 21 shots and surrendered only a

late third-period goal to beat the Kings earlier this month.

That defeat was Los Angeles’ fourth straight in Chicago after

dropping all three games there last postseason.

Of bigger concern now for the Kings is avoiding their first

three-game skid since opening last season 0-2-1.

Jeff Carter’s goal – his third in four games – with 37 seconds

left Saturday in Nashville appeared to give the Kings at least a

point, but the Predators’ Mike Fisher scored 10 seconds later for a

3-2 victory.

Coach Darryl Sutter wasn’t happy his team allowed Fisher to get

a shot off so close to the net.

”Bad coverage on our part,” he said.

One bright spot for the Kings was Anze Kopitar’s power-play

goal, the team’s first in six games. Los Angeles, however, allowed

an opponent to score on the man advantage for the third consecutive

game after giving up three power-play tallies in the previous 11

contests.

Ben Scrivens made 28 saves against Nashville in his first start

since losing to the Blackhawks. Sutter could go back to rookie

sensation Martin Jones, who is 8-1-0 with a 1.31 goals-against

average and three shutouts.