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Blackhawks vs. Kings preview: Chicago celebrates Marian Hossa with LA in the house

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Facing a defense that holds opponents to the fourth-fewest shots on net per game, the Blackhawks have a tough matchup Sunday night.

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Chicago Blackhawks
Marian Hossa will be honored before Sunday’s game.
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

With their offense slowly developing and putting more shots on goal, the Blackhawks face the defense with the fourth-fewest shots against in the Los Angeles Kings. The Hawks started the first four games of the season averaging 24.5 shots on goal, and in their last four games have increased their production to 32.8 shots on goal.

Safe to say that coach Joel Quenneville is pleased with the progress: "I still think there's some areas we still got to feel that we can be better at, and look to build on positives that we've achieved.”

One of those positives is the penalty kill (yep ... THAT penalty kill), which has managed to kill off six of its last seven shorthand situations. While it’s not the end result the team is looking for, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

What will be critical for Chicago’s offense will be the ability to put the puck on net. On a night where Marian Hossa will be honored for becoming the fifth Blackhawk to score 500 goals, the offense will need to find a way to keep LA goalie Peter Budaj busy. Los Angeles has allowed just 25.5 shots allowed on net per game this season. Getting past the defense will be critical to keeping the pressure high in the Kings’ zone.

Interestingly, Los Angeles has yet to win a game in regulation. Injuries to the goaltending position have been a major factor for the Kings, with starter Jonathan Quick and backup Jeff Zatkoff both being placed on IR in the first three games of the season. That means Sunday’s responsibility falls on Budaj, who has touted a (4-1-0) record with a 2.12 GAA and and a .906 save percentage in the last four games.

As stated above, though, the Kings (4-4-0) have not won a game in regulation yet this season. They opened the season with three straight regulation losses, then won four straight in overtime or the shootout. Left winger Tanner Pearson has netted four goals this season and is the leading scorer for LA. Team captain and center Anze Kopitar is one of several players next up on the list with two goals.

For more on the Kings, check out Jewels From The Crown.

Lineups

Blackhawks

Forwards
Richard Panik – Jonathan Toews – Patrick Kane,
Artemi Panarin – Artem Anisimov – Marian Hossa
Tyler Motte – Nick Schmaltz – Ryan Hartman
Dennis Rasmussen – Marcus Kruger – Jordin Tootoo

Defensemen
Duncan Keith – Brian Campbell
Michal Kempny – Brent Seabrook
Niklas Hjalmarsson – Michal Rozsival

Goalie
Corey Crawford

Scratches: Gustav Forsling, Andrew Desjardins, Trevor van Riemsdyk

Kings

Forwards
Dwight King - Anze Kopitar - Tyler Toffoli
Tanner Pearson - Jeff Carter - Devin Setoguchi
Andy Andreoff - Nic Dowd - Dustin Brown
Kyle Clifford - Nick Shore - Trevor Lewis

Defensemen
Brayden McNabb - Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin - Alec Martinez
Derek Forbort - Tom Gilbert

Goalie
Peter Budaj

Scratches: Jonathan Quick, Marian Gaborik

How to watch Blackhawks vs Kings

Place: United Center, Chicago

Time: 6 p.m. CT

TV: CSN Chicago, NHL Network