The Chicago Blackhawks have managed to stay on track for a fourth consecutive postseason berth despite the absence of Jonathan Toews. With their captain likely out again Sunday night but possibly returning soon, the Blackhawks look to end their scoring woes against the Los Angeles Kings.
Toews, who has 57 points in 59 games, hasn’t played since Feb. 19 for what’s officially listed as an upper body injury but has been reported as a concussion.
Toews returned to practice Thursday but hasn’t been cleared for contact. He told the league’s website Saturday that he hopes to return as soon as Tuesday’s game against St. Louis, the finale of a three-game homestand.
While they wait, the Blackhawks (37-25-7) will try to earn their fifth win in six games. They scored three goals in the third period in a 4-3 home victory over the Eastern Conference leading New York Rangers on Friday.
Defenseman Johnny Oduya scored the tiebreaking goal, his first since being acquired from Winnipeg on Feb. 27, and assisted on another.
Kane and fellow Blackhawks stars Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp continue to contribute in Toews’ absence, all three had multipoint games Friday. Hossa has seven points over the last six games, Sharp has six points in his past four and Kane has four goals with two assists over the last six.
While Chicago stands sixth in the West, Los Angeles (31-25-12) remains outside the playoff picture. The Kings’ postseason hopes have taken a hit lately, suffering back-to-back defeats on a four game road trip against Central Division foes that ends Sunday.
The latest of those losses was especially heartbreaking as they gave up two goals in the final 4:02 in a 4-3 loss to Detroit on Friday.
Los Angeles will try to bounce back against a team it has shut out in each of the past two matchups, including a 2-0 win at the United Center on Dec. 28 that snapped a seven-game skid in the series.
Jonathan Quick was in net for that game and a 4-0 home victory over Chicago on Feb. 25. Those two shutouts are part of his career-high seven this season, but he has allowed four goals in each of his past two starts and made only 11 saves in the loss to Detroit.
Quick might have to outduel Ray Emery, who is 10-0-0 with a 1.79 goals-against average in 10 career starts at the United Center. He won his only start against Los Angeles last March, making 31 saves in a 2-1 overtime victory for Anaheim.
Quick is 1-4-1 with a 2.66 GAA in six career starts in Chicago and 4-9-1 with a 2.39 GAA in 14 overall matchups.
Teammate Jarret Stoll has five of his 18 points this season versus Chicago and matched a career high with three assists during the Feb. 25 victory. Dustin Brown had his third career hat trick and an assist during that win to start his current seven-game point streak. He has five goals and six assists during that run.
LA Kings – Jonathan Quick
Chicago Blackhawks – Ray Emery
Chicago Blackhawks -119 (1 UNIT)
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