NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, January 28th (All times eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (25-12-8) at Anaheim Ducks (24-21-5), 10 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Chicago Blackhawks begin their post-All-Star Game slate tonight with the opener of their longest road trip of the season versus the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center.
Chicago begins an eight-game trek tonight and is 11-8-3 as the road team this year. The Blackhawks haven't played at home since January 21 and will not do so again until February 14 versus the Dallas Stars.
The Blackhawks enter this test fourth in the Western Conference with 58 points as they try to reach the postseason for the first time since 2001-02. Chicago, though, does trail front-running Detroit by 11 points in the Central Division.
Chicago's first-half highlights include a franchise-record nine-game winning streak from December 7-28, but the club has gone 5-6-1 since to fall back of the Red Wings a bit.
Patrick Kane leads the Blackhawks with 26 assists and 42 points this year and was one of three Chicago skaters voted into the starting lineup of the All- Star Game for the Western Conference. He had a goal and a helper in the contest, while Jonathan Toews added a goal. Defenseman Brian Campbell donated an assist in the 12-11 shootout loss to the East.
Patrick Sharp was not selected to play in the mid-season bout despite leading Chicago with 21 goals. Freshman skater Kris Versteeg, who leads all NHL rookies with 23 assists and 36 points, was selected to play in the YoungStars Game, but did not dress due to a lacerated right pinky finger that he suffered in a 2-0 loss to St. Louis on January 21 in Chicago's last game prior to the break. He is questionable for tonight's game.
Chicago has been rotating starts in net between Cristobal Huet and Nikolai Khabibulin, with Huet likely to get the nod tonight. He is 3-2-0 with a 2.72 goals against average in his career versus the Ducks.
The Blackhawks have had little success as of late versus the Ducks. Their 4-2 home win over Anaheim on December 3 was just their second in the last eight meetings and Chicago has lost four straight in Anaheim. In fact, the Blackhawks have just one win (1-11 with two ties) in their last 14 games as the visitor in the series.
The Ducks hit the ice last night and with fresh legs set a season high in goals scored in a single game, knocking off the Phoenix Coyotes, 7-3. It was Anaheim's best offensive output since also notching seven goals in a win over San Jose on February 6, 2007.
Corey Perry and Chris Kunitz both scored twice to lead Anaheim. Rob Niedermayer, Travis Moen and Bobby Ryan also scored for the Ducks, who began the post All-Star portion of the schedule by stopping a two-game skid. Ryan's goal was his 16th of the season, tops among NHL rookies.
Jonas Hiller made 23 saves in the victory in giving All-Star Jean-Sebastien Giguere a breather. Giguere has lost each of his last three starts and is just 1-5-2 over his last nine outings. However, he is 13-5-0 with two ties and a 2.27 GAA in his career versus the Blackhawks.
Anaheim wrapped a five-game road trip 2-3-0 and will aim to improve on its 13-10-3 home mark tonight. The Ducks are tied with Phoenix for both second place in the Pacific Division -- 22 points behind first-place San Jose -- and fifth overall in the Western Conference.
01/28 10:27:11 ET