CHICAGO – During the past six months, the Blackhawks have made headlines for going on streaks.
Now, in addition to extending their latest winning streak, the Hawks have a chance to stop another team’s run. Whether the high-flying Hawks achieve that goal will be determined when they visit the Los Angeles Kings tonight in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.
The target: 14.
The title: Consecutive home games won by the Kings, including seven playoff wins.
The treat: A chance for the Hawks to seize a 3-0 series lead and push the Kings to the brink of elimination.
At least one Hawks player is up for the challenge.
“I think when you win that many in a row, you’ve got to lose at some point,” said Hawks winger Patrick Kane, who headed west with his teammates Monday. “Hopefully, we can be that team to take it from them.”
It won’t be easy.
The Kings have not lost at home in more than 10 weeks. Since a 1-0 loss against the Vancouver Canucks on March 23, the Kings have dismissed guests Minnesota, Edmonton, Colorado, Anaheim, Columbus, Dallas, St. Louis (three times) and San Jose (five times).
That’s a ridiculously good stretch of hockey, even by the Hawks’ standards.
To Hawks forward Bryan Bickell, the Kings’ list of consecutive home wins reads like a warning label.
SLAPSHOT GENERAL’S WARNING: Do not underestimate, especially if you have a 2-0 series lead.
“The first series against St. Louis, they were down 2-0, and they went back home and got the momentum back,” Bickell said. “We need to keep the mindset we had in the first two games going to L.A.”
Bickell’s memory is spot on. Maybe he stores hockey knowledge in those massive gaps between his teeth.
The Kings quickly found trouble in the first round of the playoffs when they lost back-to-back road games against the St. Louis Blues. But once the series returned to the Staples Center for Games 3 and 4, the Kings returned to form as the defending Stanley Cup champions to even (and eventually to win) the series.
As for the Hawks, the road has proved to be uneven during the playoffs.
The Hawks are 8-1 at the United Center and 2-3 on the road, including a pair of second-round losses in Games 3 and 4 against the Detroit Red Wings. On home ice, the Hawks have outscored opponents, 29-14. On the road, the Hawks have 10 goals to their opponents’ 11.
Yet the Hawks know as well as anyone that all good streaks come to an end.
Their 24-game point streak ended March 8 at Colorado, as did their 11-game winning streak. Their streak of 30 consecutive penalty kills ended in Game 4 against the Wings.
Maybe this is the game in which the Hawks can spoil somebody else’s fun.
“We know how well the Kings play in their building,” Hawks forward Patrick Sharp said. “The series is just getting started, really.”
• Shaw Media sports columnist Tom Musick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @tcmusick.