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Kings Travel To Chicago To Face Depending Champion Blackhawks

(Sports Network) - After an impressive win over a hated rival, the Chicago Blackhawks will try for another victory when they host the Los Angeles Kings tonight at the United Center. The Blackhawks recorded a 4-1 victory against the visiting Red Wings on Friday night, but still find themselves third in the Central Division and six points in back of Detroit.

The victory over the Red Wings did end a three-game losing streak and also improved Chicago to 1-1-0 so far on a five-game homestand. The Blackhawks have a mediocre 9-9-0 record overall as the host this season. Corey Crawford turned aside 29 shots to help the Blackhawks post Friday's victory over the Red Wings. Chicago scored twice in the first 4:32 of the game and never allowed Detroit to draw even after that.

"As a goaltender, when your team gets up early like that -- that's a huge boost," Crawford said. Tomas Kopecky scored twice while Patrick Sharp and Bryan Bickell each had a goal for the Blackhawks. Prior to the game, the Blackhawks honored Chris Chelios in a ceremony at center-ice. The Chicago native served as team captain and won two Norris Trophies as the league's top defenseman during his nine years with the Blackhawks.

However, Chelios also accepted a trade to Detroit during the 1998-99 campaign and he spent most of the final decade of his career playing for the Red Wings. Many Blackhawks' fans have not forgiven Chelios for his time with the hated Wings and that was evident Friday night when the honoree was booed by a sizeable portion of the crowd at the United Center.

It was originally believed that an unquestionable crowd favorite could be back on the ice for the Blackhawks tonight, but it now appears Patrick Kane will set out a sixth straight game with an ankle injury. Kane couldn't complete practice with the team on Saturday and the club declared him out for tonight. Despite missing time recently, Kane is still third on the team in both goals (11) and points (27). Another one of Chicago's star wingers, Marian Hossa, will also sit out tonight with a lower-body injury. Hossa hasn't played since suffering the injury against the Kings on Nov. 27.

The Kings, meanwhile, come into tonight fresh off an impressive road victory in Nashville. Ryan Smyth tallied two goals as Los Angeles dismantled the Predators, 6-1, at Bridgestone Arena and ended Nashville's winning streak at five games. Drew Doughty, Trevor Lewis and Alexei Ponikarovsky all notched a goal and an assist for the Kings, who have gone 2-1 during a five-game road trip that is set to end Tuesday in Colorado. LA is still just 7-9-0 overall as the road club this year.

Justin Williams also lit the lamp, while Oscar Moller, Dustin Brown and Jarret Stoll each recorded two assists in the win. Jonathan Bernier turned aside 29- of-30 shots to earn the victory. LA has suffered just one regulation loss in December, posting a 5-1-1 record in seven games this month. The Blackhawks have won both meetings with Los Angeles this season, notching a home victory on Oct. 27 before posting a win in LA last month. Chicago has taken four straight and seven of eight in the series overall and has also won five in a row and six out of seven at the United Center.

For more Kings news and analysis, be sure to read the SB Nation blog Jewels From The Crown.