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Blackhawks vs. Kings game preview: Battle Royal

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The Hawks face off against the Kings for the first time since the Western Conference Final.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

The last time the Chicago Blackhawks and the Los Angeles Kings dropped the puck, a trip to the Stanley Cup Final was on the line.

The two clubs meet for the first time since last season's Western Conference Final when a wrister from Alec Martinez from the blue line deflected past Corey Crawford to give the Kings a 5-4 victory in overtime of Game 7 and their second Cup Final appearance in three years. Los Angeles defeated the New York Rangers in five games to win the Cup.

The Hawks look to avenge that loss as the Kings host Chicago for their final spot on its annual Circus Trip. Chicago boast the series advantage during the regular season - winning 12 of the past 16 match ups and six of the last seven at the Staples Center. For the Kings, it is a good thing they're hosting the Hawks because they're just 2-4-4 on the road this season compared to a stellar 10-2-1 at home.

Chicago has won two straight and five of its last six games. The Hawks are 4-1-0 on their six-game road trip with the lone loss coming Sunday in Vancouver. Chicago rebounded with consecutive wins in Colorado (3-2) and Anaheim (4-1).

Patrick Kane scored twice, including an empty-netter, while Brad Richards and Andrew Shaw each had a goal and an assist to fuel Chicago's offense outburst. The Hawks fired 38 shots on net Friday and are averaging 2.91 goals per game this season. Kane has been a bright spot this month with seven goals and nine assists.

Brent Seabrook has been showing some offensive consistency, having racked up an assist on Richards' goal to extend his point streak to seven games with two goals and five assists. On the flip side, Marian Hossa has been visibly frustrated by his lack of scoring, including last night when Anaheim goaltender Frederik Andersen's glove save denied him of what looked to be a sure fire tap-in goal. Hossa skated behind the net and flipped his stick in the air.

Crawford should finally get rest tonight as Antti Raanta is expected to make his first start since Oct. 25 when he made 28 saves in a 3-2 loss in St. Louis. Crawford has started 17 of the Hawks' 23 games this season, including 13 straight games. The Canadian goaltender is 6-3-0 with a 2.74 goals against average and .906 save percentage in nine regular season games against the Kings.

The Finnish net minder returned to his backup role Friday and is 1-2-0 with a 2.03 GAA this season. He also has great career numbers against the Kings, going 2-0 with a .50 GAA and a shutout in two appearances. In all, Raanta Claus has only allowed one goal on 48 shots against the Kings.

Opponent Breakdown: Los Angeles Kings

The Kings picked up a 4-0 win over the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday. Mike Richards, Dustin Brown, Tyler Toffoli and Justin Williams al scored first period goals and Martin Jones made 28 saves for his fifth shutout of his career. Brown netted his 200th career goal, while Williams has scored three goals and four assists on a six-game point streak.

Jones made consecutive starts, but starting net minder Jonathan Quick looks to return between the pipes. Quick has struggled against Chicago, he is 6-12-1 with a 2.76 GAA, .910 SA and two shutout in 19 regular season appearances against the Hawks.

Martinez is close to returning from a finger injury after blocking a shot against Dallas on Nov. 13. With Martinez out and fellow defenseman Slava Voynov suspended indefinitely, with pay after being charge with felony spousal abuse, Jamie McBain has seen increased ice time. The 26-year-old has played just over 17 minutes against the Wild and has two points in the past two games.

The Kings were rewarded for suspending Voynov on Nov. 21 when the league announced Voynov's $4.167 million cap hit will no longer count against the Kings' salary cap. Voynov has been suspended since his Oct. 20 arrest and is due in court on Monday.

Injury Report

ChicagoPatrick Sharp (lower body) and Trevor van Riemsdyk (knee).

Los Angeles: Alec Martinez (finger)

Game Information

When: 9 p.m. CT

Where: Staples Center

TV: WGN, NHLN-US

Radio: WGN-720

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