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Mar 18, 2024 10:24 pm

Kings eye another win vs. Blackhawks to improve playoff chances

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With time running low to lock down a spot in the playoffs, the Los Angeles Kings will open a key three-game home stretch when they face the improved Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday.

The Kings (34-22-11, 79 points) entered NHL play on Monday in third place in the Pacific Division, which qualifies for the playoffs. But one wild-card team (Nashville Predators) has more points than they do and the other (Vegas Golden Knights) has the same number of points.

The team sitting just outside of the second wild-card spot is the St. Louis Blues at 75 points, but the Kings do have a game in hand against them.

Los Angeles has not found much traction of late with a 6-6-1 record since Feb. 22. Seemingly long gone is the kind of play the team showed while amid a 5-1 run just after the All-Star break.

The Kings return home after a disappointing 4-1 loss at the Dallas Stars on Saturday that came immediately after a dominating 5-0 victory over the Blackhawks at Chicago on Friday.

Kevin Fiala scored the lone Kings goal against the Stars, but it came in the third period with his team already facing a 4-0 deficit. The Stars could be a potential playoff opponent this spring.

“We haven’t played good against that team at all so far,” Kings forward Phillip Danault said after Los Angeles went 0-3 against Dallas this season. “We haven’t shown what we’ve got. Maybe it’s mental. We’ve got to be more ready. Obviously, this is a back-to-back, but we should be better. We were better in the third, so we should be playing that way the whole time.”

Chicago (19-44-5, 43 points) has been better, even if Friday’s result doesn’t seem to show it. Over the Blackhawks’ past four games, the loss to the Kings is the only defeat. On Sunday, Chicago finished off a 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks to complete its 3-1-0 homestand.

Connor Bedard scored a goal for the Blackhawks, but it was a three-goal blitz from Ryan Donato, Kevin Korchinski and Joey Anderson, who all scored in a 1:23 span of the third period, to finish off a rally from an early 2-0 deficit.

Bedard’s team-leading 21st goal of the season in his dynamic rookie season was scored into an empty net with one second to play.

“We’re doing good things,” Anderson said. “We’re sticking to the process. … It’s not always pretty but you’ve got to win bluelines, win pucks in, stay on top of them. Sometimes you get into a matchup where the best part of your game is just giving them nothing. And I think for the most part we’ve been doing a good job of that.

“Offense comes. It’s obviously a little streaky, but just try to find a way to contribute offensively or in a positive way every night.”

The Kings and Blackhawks not only face each other at Los Angeles on Tuesday, they also play again on the West Coast on April 18 in the final game of the regular season for both teams.

–Field Level Media

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