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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Wednesday, March 11th (All times eastern)

Carolina Hurricanes (36-27-5) at Chicago Blackhawks (36-19-9), 8:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The red-hot Carolina Hurricanes will shoot for a fifth consecutive victory when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks for an interconference battle at the United Center.

The Hurricanes equalled a season-best four-game winning streak with Monday's shutout victory over the visiting New York Rangers and have outscored the opposition by a 23-6 margin during the run.

Thanks in part to the recent surge, Carolina has played itself into the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Hurricanes had moved into a tie with Montreal for the fifth seed in the East after Monday's win, but are currently tied with Florida for the conference's seventh spot.

Carolina has not made the postseason since skating off with the Stanley Cup in 2006.

On Monday, Cam Ward turned away all 28 shots he faced to record his fifth shutout of the season, as the Hurricanes defeated the Rangers, 3-0, at the RBC Center.

Rod Brind'Amour netted a power-play goal to celebrate his 600th game with the Hurricanes, who have also won eight of their last 10 overall. Joe Corvo and Tuomo Ruutu also tallied for Carolina.

This evening's tilt marks the start of a three-game road trip for the Hurricanes. Carolina, which will also visit Dallas and Washington on the swing, is 17-14-4 as the visiting club this season.

The Blackhawks, meanwhile, come into tonight as the fourth seed in the West, but Chicago is now just five points ahead of fifth-seeded Vancouver after losing its last two games. Chicago hasn't made the playoffs since 2001-02.

Chicago began March with back-to-back wins, but has since been dealt consecutive regulation losses by Boston and Colorado.

After losing a 5-3 road decision to the Bruins on Saturday, the Blackhawks were handed a 5-1 shellacking by the Avalanche the following day. Peter Budaj was solid between the pipes, making 24 saves, as Colorado -- the bottom team in the West -- ended a six-game losing streak.

Jonathan Toews notched a power-play goal for the Blackhawks, who have dropped five of their last seven games. Antti Niemi was victimized for five goals on 29 shots in defeat.

The Blackhawks are 17-6-6 as the host this year and kicked off a four-game homestand in Sunday's setback against the Avs. Chicago has lost three of its last five games in the Windy City.

Carolina is 7-0 with a tie in the last eight meetings against the Blackhawks and the Hurricanes have won four straight and five of six in Chicago. The 'Hawks last won a game in this series in a home test on April 3, 1999.

03/11 10:34:51 ET

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