The Blackhawks will have a chance to start a new winning run of success Saturday night when they close a six-game road trip against the Kings at Staples Center.
Chicago (16-6-2) fell 3-0 at Anaheim on Friday. The Blackhawks, who had outscored the first four opponents of their longest road trip of the season 20-5, gave up three power-play goals while being shut out for the second time in 2009-10. It was their first defeat since losing in a shootout to Colorado on Nov. 6, and came after they’d scored three short-handed goals in a 7-2 win Wednesday at San Jose.
“We had a big win in San Jose, but we didn’t get back to what made us successful in that game - and that is hard work and playing as a team,” center John Madden(notes) said. “We were a little soft out there, myself included. We gave up three power-play goals, and we have to find a way to stop that.”
Chicago’s opponents have scored on seven of their last 24 power-play opportunities (29.2 percent) after the Blackhawks killed 87.5 percent of power plays (56 of 64) to start the season.
The Blackhawks have won three straight over the Kings, but all of those victories have come at home, including a 4-1 victory Nov. 9 to start the recent winning streak. Playing the Kings in Los Angeles has been a bit more difficult. Chicago has lost three of its last four visits to Staples Center, getting outscored 19-6 in the three defeats.
While the Blackhawks have struggled in Los Angeles, the Kings haven’t played much better there recently. They are looking to avoid suffering a fourth straight home loss and their fourth in five games overall.
Los Angeles (14-10-2) returns to Southern California after splitting a pair of road games in Canada. The Kings beat Edmonton 3-1 on Wednesday, but lost 4-1 to Vancouver the following night.
Los Angeles gave up three Canucks goals in the third period after Wayne Simmonds(notes) tied the game in the final minute of the second. Two of the goals came shortly after Vancouver had won a faceoff.
“Two faceoff goals against,” Kings coach Terry Murray said. “It ended up being the part of the game that cost us.”
Ryan Smyth(notes), who has nine goals and 14 assists, missed a fourth straight game with an upper-body injury. Linemates Anze Kopitar(notes) and Justin Williams(notes) have been a non-factor without him, totaling just two assists in the four games. Kopitar has been stuck on 14 goals for the last eight games.
“There’s no production,” Murray told the Kings’ official Web site. “There’s certainly opportunities, and that’s a bit of a concern for me.”
Kopitar may be able to break out of his goal-scoring drought against Chicago. He scored in the loss to the Blackhawks earlier this month and has seven points in his last six games against them.