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Blackhawks vs. Kings preview: Crawford in net to start second half

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Chicago returns from All-Star break against defending champs

Gary A.Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Corey Crawford will start in net as the Chicago Blackhawks return from the All-Star break against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday at the Staples Center.

The Blackhawks won their final two games before the All-Star break. Chicago posted a 6-1 home win over Arizona on Jan. 20 and a 3-2 shootout win the next night in Pittsburgh.

Last Wednesday's victory over the Penguins marked the start to a seven-game road trip for the Blackhawks. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane each scored in the shootout. Marian Hossa registered a goal and an assist, David Rundblad also netted a goal and Crawford made 33 saves.

Kane, Toews and Crawford represented Chicago at All-Star weekend along with defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. Kane was the lone All-Star to participate in Monday's morning skate.

The Blackhawks have won four straight regular-season match ups against the Kings, including a 4-1 win at Staples Center on Nov. 29. Chicago have skated away victorious in three straight and seven of the past eight in Hollywood.

Chicago is tied with St. Louis for second place in the Central Division; two points ahead of Winnipeg and five back from first-place Nashville.

Crawford is 7-3-0 with a 2.56 goals-against average in 10 appearances against the Kings.

Opponent Breakdown: Los Angeles Kings

The Kings are on a four-game losing streak and have not won at home since Jan. 12 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

On Wednesday, L.A. dropped a 4-2 decision at San Jose. Dustin Brown and Jeff Carter potted the Kings' goals and Jonathan Quick gave up three goals on 24 shots for the Kings, who have lost seven of eight.

Chicago's Brad Richards will be the only Richards on the ice as former All-Star center Mike Richards, who was placed on waivers Monday and cleared them Tuesday has been assigned to L.A's American Hockey League affiliate in Manchester, N.H.

The 29-year-old Richards was a member of both Cup teams for L.A. and had only five goals and 15 points in 47 games this season.

Despite winning only once during their eight-game homestand, which ends Wednesday, the Kings hold a decent 15-6-6 mark at the Staples Center. L.A. begins a five-game road trip this Saturday in Boston.

All-Star Anze Kopitar leads the club with 37 points (11G, 26A) this season. He has been the strong card for the Kings lately with 11 points in his last eight outings. Kopitar has tallied 19 points (8G, 11A) in 28 regular-season games against Chicago.

Quick will get the start in net for the Kings, he is 16-12-10 on the season and post a 6-13-1 record during 20 regular-season outings against Chicago.

Injury Report

ChicagoKris Versteeg (hand) and Trevor van Riemsdyk (knee)

Los Angeles: Tanner Pearason (broken left fibula) and Tyler Toffoli (Mono)

Game Information

When: 9:30 p.m. CT

Where: Staples Center

TV: NBC Sports

Radio: WGN-720

Follow Second City Hockey on Twitter at @2ndCityHockey and Like us on Facebook. You can follow Brandon Cain on Twitter at @BrandonMCain