(Sports Network) - While the Los Angeles Kings have caught fire over the last two weeks, the Chicago Blackhawks are in danger of losing three straight for the first time this young season. The Kings have lost four straight games at United Center.
With the Kings set to visit the Stars on Thursday, the Kings will go with backup Jonathan Bernier in goal for this contest. Bernier has never faced the Blackhawks and is 1-1-0 with a 2.51 GAA in two starts this year. Per RIch Hammond of LA Kings Insider:
For those keeping track of such things, it’s worth noting that this will be Bernier’s third start in the Kings’ ninth game. Last season, backup goalie Erik Ersberg didn’t make his third start of the season until Dec. 9, in the Kings’ 32nd game. So far, Terry Murray is sticking to his "Rest Quick" plan, although Jonathan Quick will be back in on Thursday. With the way the schedule is set up, Quick could possibly play eight of the next nine games (after Chicago).
The defending Stanley Cup champions stumbled out of the box to begin this season, going 1-2-1 over their first four games. They then rebounded with four straight victories, but have since dropped two straight.
Chicago's latest setback came on Saturday at home versus Columbus, which rallied from an early two-goal deficit to deal the Blackhawks a 3-2 defeat.
Patrick Sharp, tied for the NHL lead with eight goals, scored for the seventh time in six games, while Jonathan Toews also lit the lamp. Backup goaltender Corey Crawford made 37 saves.
"It's not the way we wanted to finish the second period, giving up a two-goal lead," Toews said. "We kind of distanced ourselves a little bit, but that's when we started letting off the gas pedal."
Marty Turco will get the start in net tonight for the 'Hawks and is 1-2-3 with a 2.58 goals-against average in his last six starts versus the Kings.
Chicago won three of four over Los Angeles last year and has won six of the last nine meetings overall. That includes a victory in four straight and five of the last six meetings at the United Center.
Sharp has nine goals and 14 points in his last nine games versus the Kings, who have won five of their last six and improved to 2-1 on a five-game road trip with Monday's 3-2 shootout victory over the Wild.
Michal Handzus had the game-winner in the fifth round and Jonathan Quick sealed the victory with a save on Minnesota's ensuing chance by Antti Miettinen.
"It's a tough building to come into, the crowd's always into it and it's a good atmosphere," said Quick, who made 20 saves before the shootout. "They're a solid defensive team that never gives up too many opportunities and their power play's been solid thus far. It's a great two points on the road."
After going his first four games without a goal, Anze Kopitar scored for the third time in four games and had an assist. He has five goals and 10 points in 14 career games when facing the 'Hawks.
Los Angeles defenseman Drew Doughty is expected to miss his fourth straight game after being placed on injured reserve Monday due to a concussion.
For Kings news and information, be sure to read the SB Nation blog Jewels From The Crown.