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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, March 12th (All times eastern)

Carolina Hurricanes (37-29-5) at Chicago Blackhawks (33-30-7), 8:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Hurricanes picked a great time to go on a season-high winning streak. Coming down the final stretch of the regular season, Carolina will try for its fifth consecutive victory when it takes on the Blackhawks at Chicago's United Center.

Carolina (79 points) has won its last four games for the first time this season to open up a seven-point lead over Washington and Florida for the top spot in the Southeast Division. The Hurricanes and Panthers each have 11 games left this year, while the Capitals have 12.

Both Washington and Florida are in action tonight as well.

Carolina's most recent win came in an extra frame, Scott Walker scored the game winner with 2:10 left in overtime to lift the Hurricanes over the Sabres, 4-3, on Saturday.

Keith Aucoin, Tim Gleason and Sergei Samsonov each lit the lamp for the Hurricanes, who have also won seven of their last eight. Cam Ward picked up the win after stopping 27-of-30 shots faced.

Carolina hasn't won five straight since December 16-26, 2006.

Eric Staal had a pair of assists to give him three goals and six helpers over his last four games. Samsonov (3 goals, 3 assists) and Joseph Corvo (2g, 4a), who also had two assists versus Buffalo, both have six points over their last four tests.

Ray Whitney, second on the Hurricanes in goals (25) and points (59) this season, has missed the last four games due to a leg injury and is questionable for tonight's contest.

Carolina plays the first of two straight on the road tonight and is 16-17-2 as the visitor this season. The Hurricanes will skate in Buffalo on Friday.

The Blackhawks will be trying to halt a three-game slide tonight. Their losing ways continued Tuesday night, as Chicago lost to Detroit, 3-1. Rene Bourque had the lone goal for the Blackhawks.

Corey Crawford turned aside 44-of-46 shots for Chicago, which remained seven points back of the eighth and final playoff spot in the West with 12 games to play.

The Blackhawks continue to skate without some key players. Netminder Nikolai Khabibulin (back spasms) has missed the last 11 games, Brent Sopel (broken left wrist) has missed 10 straight tests and Martin Havlat (shoulder) hasn't played in the last seven games.

Chicago should also be without defenseman James Wisniewski for some time as well. Wisniewski was hit with a match penalty after cross-checking Detroit's Mikael Samuelsson in the facial area in Tuesday's loss.

Chicago is 18-14-2 at home this season, and tonight seeks its first win over Carolina since April 3, 1999. Since that 2-1 victory, the Blackhawks are 0-5-1 with a tie in six meetings with the Hurricanes.

Carolina, which hasn't played in Chicago since March 17, 2004, has won three straight in the Windy City.

03/12 10:41:21 ET


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