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UPDATE: Blackhawks Continue Without Toews

Viktor Stalberg

Viktor Stalberg (Photo Credit: Getty Images, By: Harry How)

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UPDATE: Jonathon Toews will return to the lineup over a week ahead of schedule and will play against the Kings on Monday night.

Updated on January 3, 2010 at 3:27 PM

(WSCR) – The Blackhawks have been struggling since losing their captain, Jonathon Toews, to a shoulder injury. With about a week and a half until Toews’ return, the Blackhawks need to start racking up wins.

After giving up 13 goals in a pair of losses that defenseman Rob Scuderi called their ugliest of the season, the Los Angeles Kings’ third consecutive defeat came in a game that featured just one goal.

The Kings are used to low-scoring losses against the Blackhawks.

Los Angeles has lost five straight and eight of nine to Chicago while failing to score more than twice, a drought it’ll look to solve Monday night at Staples Center against the Stanley Cup champions in a matchup of teams hoping to avoid their fourth consecutive defeats.

The Kings (22-15-1) didn’t close out 2010 on a high note, losing 6-3 at Phoenix on Wednesday and 7-4 at home against Philadelphia one night later – defensive breakdowns that Scuderi said his team would have to “scrape … under the rug and move on.”

Los Angeles was much better in its own end New Year’s Day against San Jose, but that wasn’t enough to help it earn two points. Devin Setoguchi’s late second-period goal was enough to give the Sharks a 1-0 win at Staples Center.

“We had our chances,” captain Dustin Brown told the Kings’ official website. “We just didn’t bury them. The effort was there and the D played well.

“In the second half of the year, every game is going to be tight-checking. It’s about the little decisions we made. We just have to build on that. That’s not the result we wanted, that’s for sure, but we outplayed them, I thought, for two periods.”

Los Angeles hasn’t been able to say it’s outplayed Chicago of late. The Blackhawks (20-17-3) have outscored the Kings 27-11 in going 8-1-0 in nine meetings since March 1, 2009.

Chicago’s Patrick Sharp contributed to five of the team’s eight goals during three wins over the Kings in the first three months of this season.

Sharp leads the Blackhawks with 21 goals, but he and his teammates had trouble solving Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller on Sunday. Chicago outshot the Ducks 40-18 – 19-2 in the third period – but lost 2-1, dropping a third straight game in regulation for the first time this season.

“If you play like that in the third period, you will be rewarded,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “But that is the way we have to start the game, and we have to play like that throughout.”

Chicago hasn’t failed to pick up a point in four consecutive games since Jan. 1-6, 2008.

The Blackhawks’ chances of finishing their first season sweep of Los Angeles since winning three meetings in 1981-82 figure to be much better if Toews can return. Chicago’s captain has missed two games since suffering a right shoulder injury last week at St. Louis, but he skated prior to Sunday’s game and could return Monday.

That could be a big boost to the Blackhawks’ league-leading power play. Chicago converts 24.8 percent of its chances with the man advantage, and Toews’ 16 power-play points are second on the team to Sharp’s 17.

The Blackhawks’ recent dominance of Los Angeles, however, has come despite zero success with the man advantage. Chicago is 0 for 18 on the power play during its five consecutive wins in the series.

The Kings, meanwhile, could use some more offense from their captain Monday. Brown has one goal – his only point – during his last nine games against the Blackhawks.

Originally posted on January 3, 2010 at 11:30 AM

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