NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, February 17th (All times Eastern)
Los Angeles Kings (5-5-2) at Chicago Blackhawks (11-0-3), 3:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Chicago Blackhawks hot start isn't just impressive anymore. It's getting historically good.
The Blackhawks try to extend their season-opening point streak to 15 straight games on Sunday afternoon when they play host to the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.
Chicago brings an 11-0-3 record into this meeting, having rebounded from a shootout loss to Anaheim on Tuesday with a 4-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks Friday. The Blackhawks have won five of their last six and have matched the 1943-44 Montreal Canadiens for the third-longest season-opening point streak in NHL history.
Next up is the 1984-85 Edmonton Oilers' 15-game run to open the season, while the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks hold the all-time record by recording a point in 16 straight to begin a campaign.
"We're going one game at a time here, but we like our start. We like the way we're playing, the consistency, the balance. We've got a tough opponent next and lets get excited about it," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said of Sunday's meeting with the Kings following the win over the Ducks.
Marcus Kruger and Niklas Hjalmarsson each had a goal and an assist, while Dave Bolland and Andrew Shaw added goals as well. Patrick Kane finished with an assist, giving him seven goals and five helpers over an eight-game point streak.
With No. 1 netminder Corey Crawford unavailable due to a lower body injury, Ray Emery made 27 saves to improve to 4-0-0 in four games this season.
"We had a great start. We came out with a lot of energy and we were buzzing around their net a bunch," said Emery. "We got on the board early in the game, so that helps, and we played with the lead throughout the game."
Chicago will play the third of a seven-game homestand on Sunday and is 3-0-1 as the host this season.
Perhaps watching the Kings raise their Stanley Cup banner in the season opener on Jan. 19 provided the spark that has led to the Blackhawks' fast start. Chicago went on to best Los Angeles 5-2 in that meeting, getting two goals and an assist from Marian Hossa, as well as goals by Kane and Jonathan Toews.
The Blackhawks snapped a three-game slide to the Kings in the process and have won 11 of the past 15 encounters overall.
That defeat was part of an 0-2-1 start for the Kings, who are looking to turn things around and have won two straight for only the second time this season. Their most recent winning streak came about thanks to a 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday.
Kyle Clifford and Mike Richards had the goals, with Richards notching his 400th career point.
The Blue Jackets pulled within one on a goal with 2:25 to play, but Los Angeles held on to improve to 90-1-10 in its last 101 games when leading after two periods.
"When we get the lead, we're a strong team, so that's got to be our focus all year," said Clifford.
After backstopping the Kings to a win over the Blues on Monday, Jonathan Bernier made back-to-back starts for the first time since Jan. 15-17, 2011 and made 12 saves.
"I felt good from the get-go. It's hard to stay focused when they're not shooting much on goal," said Bernier, who also picked up his second career assist. "We didn't give up much tonight. We found a way to win."
It is unknown if Bernier or reigning Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Quick will start this game. Quick has gone 3-4-2 with a 2.70 goals against average and .891 save percentage in 10 games this season.
Quick allowed five goals on 22 shots faced in the loss to the Blackhawks back in January.
02/17 10:25:53 ET