NHL

Kings-Blackhawks Preview

Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Kane (88), right, controls the puck against Los Angeles Kings' Jeff Carter (77) during the first period in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs in Chicago on Sunday, May 18, 2014. (AP P Photo:

Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Kane (88), right, controls the puck against Los Angeles Kings' Jeff Carter (77) during the first period in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs in Chicago on Sunday, May 18, 2014. (AP P

Facing a third consecutive defeat, the Chicago Blackhawks mounted a third-period comeback to gain some momentum ahead of a Western Conference finals rematch.

Monday night's contest in Chicago could preview yet another postseason meeting between the Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings, though the defending champions can't afford many more letdowns if they hope to crack the playoff picture.

Chicago (45-24-6) trailed by one in the final period at Winnipeg on Sunday, but Patrick Sharp got his fourth goal in eight games at the 6:27 mark before Jonathan Toews added another with 30.8 seconds remaining to beat the Jets 4-3.

"Guys hung (in there)," coach Joel Quenneville told the team's website. "The attitude going out there for the third period was, 'Hey, a lot of good things are here. Let's go 20 (minutes) and see what happens.'

"At the end of the day, when you look back at some of the big wins we've had, this is probably No. 1."

Although not quite in a desperate situation, the victory could prove a turning point heading into the playoffs for the Blackhawks, who were largely noncompetitive in back-to-back losses to Philadelphia and Columbus - both already eliminated from contention.

Including a shutout loss at Dallas on March 21, Chicago had dropped three of four, beating only lifeless Carolina in that span.

"I don't think anybody panicked or anyone lost their cool or anything," Toews said. "We've all been in situations like that before, whether it's the playoffs or the regular season. We were talking this morning that we can rely on some of our experience there, and I think we did that here."

The Kings (37-24-14) will be visiting United Center for the first time since Alec Martinez scored the overtime winner in Game 7 of last season's conference finals.

The two heavyweights have met twice earlier this season - both times in Los Angeles - with the Kings falling 4-1 on Nov. 29 before mounting a third-period comeback of their own in a 4-3 win Jan. 28.

After stringing together three victories to move back into playoff position, the Kings fell to Minnesota 4-1 on Saturday.

"Obviously we want to have a better start, but we're going to move on," backup goaltender Martin Jones said. "We've got a game against Chicago, so we have to move forward and make sure we're getting better.

"They're a fast group and they have some pretty skilled forwards up front."

Los Angeles, which has six games remaining following this contest, has 88 points and trails Calgary by one for third place in the Pacific Division and Winnipeg by two for the final wild-card position. The Kings have one game in hand on both.

Jones replaced Jonathan Quick after the first period Saturday, but Quick should be in net Monday. He has a 2.86 goals-against average against Chicago, including playoffs.

Corey Crawford has a slightly better 2.75 GAA versus the Kings, although following his solid 31-save performance against Winnipeg, he may cede the net to backup Scott Darling.

Darling, however, has never faces Los Angeles and hasn't started since March 18.

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