Kings eye another win vs. Blackhawks to improve playoff chances

Kings eye another win vs. Blackhawks to improve playoff chances

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,

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.

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