After ending one of the worst stretches in team history, the Los Angeles Kings hope a trip to Chicago won’t start a similar slide again.
The Kings look to build off their first win in almost three weeks Sunday when they face the Blackhawks, who are looking for a season-high fifth straight victory.
Los Angeles (13-24-2), owner of the NHL’s worst record, beat Colorado 3-1 on Saturday to snap an eight-game losing streak. It was the club’s longest stretch without a win since dropping 11 in a row to finish 2003-04, and the first time it had lost eight straight in regulation since Jan. 19-Feb. 15, 1970.
“It’s great for them,” Kings coach Marc Crawford said. “They can now, hopefully, continue that feeling. Confidence comes from results, and we got a result tonight. Hopefully, we can build on the result.”
The Kings’ recent slide began Dec. 12 with a 6-3 loss at Chicago (19-15-2). Los Angeles was outscored 31-15 during the skid, but four of the eight losses were decided by one goal.
“We’ve been on a little bit of a slide,” said Los Angeles’ Scott Thornton, who scored one of the Kings’ three third-period goals in Saturday’s victory. “We’ve been close in a lot of games, but obviously that’s not good enough in the NHL.”
Los Angeles had just 10 shots and trailed 1-0 through two periods, but broke out as Derek Armstrong and Anze Kopitar also scored in the decisive third. The Kings snapped a six-game road losing streak to improve to 5-12-1 away from home.
“We were patient,” said Los Angeles goalie Jean-Sebastien Aubin, who made 29 saves for his first win in four starts. “We got our chances in the third and buried them. It’s good to get a win. It feels really good.”
Kopitar, the team’s leading scorer with 16 goals and 38 points, scored on an empty-netter for his first goal since the loss at Chicago. Aubin was pulled after allowing three first-period goals in that contest.
While the recent meeting between the teams sent the Kings reeling, it helped the Blackhawks turn around what had been a dismal December. That victory snapped a four-game losing streak to open the month for Chicago, which is 5-2 since the skid.
Robert Lang had two goals, while Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews each added a goal and an assist in Chicago’s 5-2 home win over Nashville on Wednesday. Nikolai Khabibulin made 30 saves for his fourth straight win and helped hold off a third-period charge by the Predators.
“(Khabibulin) won the game for us,” said Toews, who had a goal and two assists versus Los Angeles earlier this month. “All in all, I don’t think we played as well as could tonight. But we came away with two points and we’re happy about it.”
Khabibulin has won five of his last six games versus the Kings, and is 18-8-0 with a tie against them in his career.
Sharp, who had a goal and two assists in the Dec. 12 meeting, has five goals and two assists during a four-game overall point streak.
Chicago, which has won four of five over Los Angeles, will be without one of its top defensemen. James Wisniewski will miss this contest after injuring his knee in a fight at the end of Wednesday’s game.