After their latest successful road trip, the Chicago Blackhawks will get to play the majority of their final 18 games at home - but they likely won’t have Marian Hossa for the first of those contests.
The star forward is doubtful for the Blackhawks’ attempt to sweep the season series with the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night.
The Blackhawks (24-3-3) will have 11 games at the United Center over the final five weeks of the season and will play five of their next six there beginning against the Kings (17-12-2).
Chicago, though, is expected to be short-handed Monday with Hossa still ailing from an upper-body injury. He did not practice Sunday and forward Andrew Shaw also sat out with the flu.
With Hossa and Patrick Sharp (upper body) missing, the Blackhawks gave up three goals in the final 5:27 on Wednesday in a 4-2 loss to Anaheim, which sits just three points behind Chicago in the Western Conference.
“It’s frustrating, considering we thought we were looking at a 3-1 lead at one point,” Toews said. “We have to keep working and doing the right things. We played good enough to win, but made a few mistakes in the last five minutes, and they made us pay for it.”
After four days off, Chicago will try to improve enough to earn its third win in as many tries over Los Angeles.
The Blackhawks held on for a 3-2 victory Feb. 17 in Chicago after scoring the game’s first three goals. Mike Richards scored twice in the third period for Los Angeles.
The Blackhawks also spoiled the Kings’ Stanley Cup celebration with a 5-2 season-opening victory at Staples Center on Jan. 19. Hossa had two goals and an assist in that game.
This time, Chicago will face a team that’s been shut out in its past two contests and has lost a season-high three straight on the road. Los Angeles outshot Dallas 40-21 in a 2-0 loss Thursday and held a 20-13 advantage in a 1-0 defeat to Vancouver two days later.
The Kings have been blanked in three straight games only once in franchise history - in January 1969.
“We’re not making it hard enough on the opposing team’s goaltenders,” captain Dustin Brown said. “We’ve gone through spurts this year where we’ve scored a lot of goals, and it was just a result of getting the puck to the net with bodies at the same time.”
While the Kings will seek to regain their scoring touch in the opener to a five-game trip, Jonathan Toews will try to continue his strong play in this series after posting five goals and four assists in his last six against Los Angeles. Toews had four goals and three assists in the final three games of the road trip.
Patrick Kane meanwhile, has four goals and seven assists during a five-game point streak.
Corey Crawford is expected in net Monday for Chicago. He’s 5-2-0 with a 2.34 goals-against average in seven career games against Los Angeles, including the win in January.
Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick has started both meetings with the Blackhawks this season and surrendered all eight goals.
With his next win, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville will pass former Toronto Maple Leafs teammate Ron Wilson for sixth on the all-time coaching wins list with 649.