Los Angeles Kings (37-24-14) at Chicago Blackhawks (45-24-6), 8:30 p.m. (ET)
(SportsNetwork.com) – The Los Angeles Kings continue their see-saw battle for a playoff spot on Monday night when they wrap a five-game road trip against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Kings won the first three contests of their swing, with Thursday’s triumph over the New York Islanders giving them a 6-0-1 mark over their past six on the road, but that run came to an end with Saturday’s 4-1 setback to the Minnesota Wild.
With Calgary beating the Nashville Predators on Sunday, the Kings dropped a point behind the Flames for third place in the Pacific Division with a game in hand. Calgary also is in action tonight as it visits the Dallas Stars.
Dwight King scored his first goal in 20 games in Saturday’s loss, but Jonathan Quick was pulled after 20 minutes, having allowed two goals on nine shots faced. Backup Martin Jones halted 9-of-10 shots fired his way in relief.
“We were just a little bit slow in the first period,” Jones said. “They’re a good hockey team and we have to play a full 60 minutes against them.”
Los Angeles also is two points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference and figures to go with Quick in net tonight. He is 7-13-1 lifetime versus the Blackhawks with a 2.79 goals against average, .908 save percentage and two shutouts in 21 games (20 starts).
With seven games left on their regular-season schedule, the Blackhawks don’t have a ton of room for error either. They own just a one-point edge over the Wild for third place in the Central Division with a game in hand and also are three back of the second-place St. Louis Blues.
Chicago picked up a big win on Sunday, topping Winnipeg 4-3 on Jonathan Toews’ winner with 30.8 seconds to play. He redirected a shot from Niklas Hjalmarsson for his 25th of the season.
Patrick Sharp, Andrew Shaw and Brad Richards all scored for the Blackhawks, who had lost three of four coming in. Corey Crawford ended with 31 saves.
“It was nice to see our guys creating that much offense,” said Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford. “We were definitely feeling it tonight.”
Coming down the stretch, the Blackhawks may stick with Crawford in net for a second night in a row. He is 7-4-0 versus the Kings with a 2.70 GAA and .904 save percentage in 11 games.
The Blackhawks had won four straight against the Kings before a 4-3 setback in Los Angeles on Jan. 28. They still have won 13 of the previous 18 meetings overall and nine of the last 12 played in Chicago.