Kings-Blackhawks Preview

A convincing victory over their biggest rival has the

short-handed Chicago Blackhawks believing they might have turned

things around after a recent rough stretch.

The Blackhawks look to build on their latest effort while trying

to continue their recent dominance of the Los Angeles Kings on

Sunday night at the United Center.

Mired in a three-game losing streak – and still without injured

stars Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa – Chicago (17-14-3) thoroughly

outplayed Western Conference-leading Detroit in a 4-1 home victory

Friday.

“It was a great win and confidence boost for us,” said forward

Tomas Kopecky, who had two goals against his former team.

Patrick Sharp scored his team-leading 18th goal and defenseman

Brent Seabrook added two assists as the Blackhawks played

penalty-free while allowing fewer than two goals for the first time

in eight games.

“We feel real confident we can play that game all the time,”

Seabrook said.

It’s been hard for the Blackhawks to produce that kind of

complete effort with Kane (ankle) out for the past five games and

Hossa (lower-body injury) the last eight. Though both are expected

to miss this contest, Hossa could be close to returning.

“We’ll see,” coach Joel Quenneville told the Blackhawks’

official website. “He’s progressing.”

Regardless who is on the ice, the Blackhawks should be confident

while trying for a fifth consecutive win over the Kings.

Chicago owns a 24-10 scoring advantage while going 7-0-1 versus

Los Angeles since last losing on Jan. 29, 2009. The Blackhawks have

outscored the Kings 5-2 while winning both meetings this season,

including 3-1 on Oct. 27 at the United Center.

Sharp has two goals with an assist versus Los Angeles this

season, and 15 goals with nine assists in 18 games against the

Kings.

Corey Crawford, who made 29 saves to snap a three-game skid

Friday, stopped 21 shots in a 2-1 win on Nov. 27 at Los

Angeles.

Former Chicago starter Marty Turco has allowed 18 goals while

going 0-3-0 in his last four starts, but made 33 saves versus Los

Angeles in October.

Though the Kings (18-11-1) have struggled to score against the

Blackhawks, Los Angeles has 15 goals while winning two of three on

a five-game trip, highlighted by a 6-1 victory over Nashville on

Saturday.

Ryan Smyth scored twice, star defenseman Drew Doughty had a goal

with an assist and Dustin Brown added two assists as Los Angeles

won for the fifth time in seven contests.

“Everybody started the right way and did the right things

throughout,” Kings coach Terry Murray said.

Though Brown has two goals and nine assists in seven games, he’s

recorded just one goal in his last eight games versus Chicago.

Doughty has a goal and five assists in three games, but has been

held without a point against the Blackhawks this season.

With Jonathan Bernier getting the win over the Predators,

Jonathan Quick should be back in net following Thursday’s 6-4 loss

at St. Louis where he allowed a season-high five goals.

Quick is 15-6-1 with a 1.98 GAA this season, but has lost three

straight and six of seven against the Blackhawks.

Bernier was defeated in his only career appearance against

Chicago in October.