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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, December 30th (All times Eastern)
Los Angeles Kings (25-10-4) at Chicago Blackhawks (27-7-7), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Kings face a tough challenge in avoiding a season-high third straight loss on Monday night as they are set to visit the reigning champion Chicago Blackhawks.
The Kings have lost back-to-back games for just the fourth time this season and have done so in regulation for the first time since Oct. 4-7, their second and third games of the season. They had won nine of their first 10 in December prior to setbacks against Dallas and Nashville.
Los Angeles began a four-game trip on Saturday with a visit to the Predators and lost a wild 3-2 decision.
Nashville went ahead by a goal on Mike Fisher's power-play tally with 3:18 left to play in the third before Jeff Carter tied the contest for the Kings, one-timing a feed from Anze Kopitar with goaltender Ben Scrivens on the bench and 36.7 seconds left on the clock.
Nashville, though, scored just 10 seconds later as Fisher sent a shot that Scrivens got a piece of but couldn't prevent from crossing the goal line. The play was reviewed and the goal call on the ice stood.
"They got one late, we tried to get another one late, but we gotta be better five-on-five," said Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin.
Scrivens stopped 28 shots for the Kings, while Kopitar had a power-play goal.
Carter, meanwhile, has five goals and five assists over his last eight games.
Rookie Martin Jones could get the start tonight for Los Angeles after losing for the first time in nine starts last Monday versus Dallas. He gave up four goals on 23 shots, falling to 8-1-0 with a 1.31 goals against average and .953 save percentage.
Los Angeles did not have much luck on its side when it visited Chicago for the first time this season on Dec. 15, falling in defeat 3-1. It marked the first meeting between the clubs since the Blackhawks knocked off the Kings in five games during last season's Western Conference finals.
The Blackhawks got first-period goals from Marian Hossa, Kris Versteeg and Patrick Sharp as well as 21 saves by rookie Antti Raanta in besting the Kings for the third time in the past four regular-season meetings.
Chicago has also won eight of its last 11 at home versus Los Angeles in the regular season.
The Blackhawks come into this meeting 4-0-2 in their last six games but also off a tough 6-5 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. Chicago failed to hold a pair of two-goal leads and allowed the Blues to force bonus time by scoring twice during a 1:17 span late in the third period.
Raanta made 20 saves, but was beaten three times in the shootout.
"Great hockey game. Great intensity. It was good for the sport, tough for us," said Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville, whose club is 13-3-3 in its last 19 overall.
Patrick Kane picked up a goal and two assists for the Blackhawks, while Sharp, Andrew Shaw, Brandon Saad and Brent Seabrook all lit the lamp in defeat.
Kane has a point in 14 straight games, amassing eight goals and 16 assists over that run, and in 27 of his last 28 contests. The forward is among the league leaders this season with 23 goals and 53 points.
Sharp, coming off a hat trick in Friday's win over Colorado, has six goals in his last three games.
Injured Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford may return from a lower-body ailment by the end of the week, meaning Raanta may yet get the call again tonight to face the Kings for a second time. The rookie is 9-1-3 with a 2.38 GAA in 14 games (12 starts) this season.
12/30 10:32:36 ET