Kings Vs. Blackhawks: LA Returns Home To Face Defending Champs

(Sports Network) - Though it is the Blackhawks who are the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Kings look like a team that can give a serious challenge to that title. On home ice at least. After a disastrous trip out east, Los Angeles returns to the Staples Center tonight looking to avenge an earlier road setback to Chicago.

Coming off their first playoff appearance since 2002, the Kings set a club record by winning their first eight home games of this season before that run was ended in a loss to the Blue Jackets on Nov. 17. Los Angeles then hit the road for four straight, but was outscored 14-9 while losing three of four.

The Kings had a chance to break even on the swing in Montreal on Wednesday, but were handed a 4-1 setback.

Alec Martinez scored his first NHL goal and Jonathan Bernier allowed all four goals on 33 shots. Los Angeles has lost two straight and five of six following a six-game win streak.

"The outcome was unacceptable," said LA forward Ryan Smyth. "But you have to give [the Canadiens] credit, they played hard from start to finish. There were spurts throughout the game where I thought we were all right. But overall we have to be better."

Bernier fell to 2-5-0 with a 3.30 goals-against average in seven starts this year. Starting netminder Jonathan Quick should resume his role in net tonight and is 11-3-0 with a 1.90 GAA this year. He is 2-5-1 with a 2.80 GAA in his career versus Chicago.

Justin Williams, who had an assist on Wednesday, leads the Kings with 22 points. He has a goal and four points in nine career games versus Chicago, picking up that goal in a 3-1 setback in the Windy City on Oct. 27. Bernier started for Los Angeles and allowed three goals on 28 shots.

Marty Turco made 33 saves and Patrick Sharp, Viktor Stalberg and Jake Dowell had the goals for the Blackhawks, who have won three straight and six of their last seven versus the Kings. They snapped a three-game slide in Los Angeles with a win there on March 18.

Turco, who is 17-13-7 with a pair of ties and a 2.53 GAA in his career versus the Kings, was given the night off on Friday and Corey Crawford made 26 saves in a 4-1 victory in Anaheim for his third straight winning start.

Patrick Sharp had the go-ahead goal and added an assist, while Niklas Hjalmarsson scored to end a 44-game goal drought. Duncan Keith and Troy Brouwer also scored as the Blackhawks improved to 3-2-0 on a six-game road trip.

"It would be nice to get something rolling and to get some wins in a row. We were talking about that prior to the game," said Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville. "At some point during the year, you get a little streak going where all the sudden things are going in your favor. That is what we're looking for going into the end of this road trip."

Chicago hasn't played at home since Nov. 14 due to an annual stay at the United Center by the circus and returns to the Windy City for four straight beginning on Tuesday.

The 'Hawks are 7-4-2 on the road this season.

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