NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, January 23rd
(All times eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (35-12-4) at Vancouver Canucks (30-18-2), 10 p.m.
(Sports Network) - While the Canucks have a clear-cut No. 1 goaltender in
Roberto Luongo, the play of Antti Niemi this season has given the Blackhawks
options in net.
Chicago could turn to its backup again tonight as it continues an eight-game
road trip versus Vancouver at General Motors Place.
Niemi has made 15 starts to Cristobal Huet's 36 this season, but has made the
most of his opportunities. He stopped 19 shots in Thursday's 3-1 win over
Calgary, improving to 13-3-1 with a 1.85 goals-against average and four
shutouts this season. Huet, meanwhile, is a solid 22-9-3 with a 2.24 GAA and
Though it is unknown who will start in net for Chicago tonight, Niemi has
started both of the Blackhawks' games versus the Canucks this year. He made 28
saves in a 3-2 home loss to Vancouver on October 21, then posted a 30-save
shutout in Vancouver on November 22 in a 1-0 win.
Huet, meanwhile, is 2-2-0 with a tie and 2.55 GAA in his career versus the
Chicago is 3-1-0 on its longest road trip of the season and 14-7-3 as the
guest this year. Ben Eager was credited with the game-winning goal in
Thursday's victory over the Flames, as a Tomas Kopecky shot hit off his leg
and went into the net.
Patrick Kane also scored and Duncan Keith sealed things with an empty-net
goal, as Chicago won for the fourth time in five games and for the 16th time
in its last 21 contests.
"Everybody played hard and played well. We had the puck a lot and had some
high quality chances," said Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville. "We played
the way we wanted to play and found a way to win a tight game."
Chicago, which remained two games back of San Jose for the most points in the
NHL with 74, has beaten Vancouver just four times in the last 11 meetings, but
those four wins have come in the last seven matchups. It has also won two of
its last three trips to GM Place.
While the 'Hawks face a decision in net, it is likely that Roberto Luongo will
make his 22nd start in a row tonight. Luongo, 10-7-0 with a tie and 2.10 GAA
lifetime versus the Blackhawks, made 20 saves in Thursday's 4-3 win over the
Kyle Wellwood scored for the first time in 10 games in what turned out to be
the game-winner when Dallas netted a goal in the game's final seconds.
"That's the hope whenever you score that it'll bring some confidence and the
chances come easier and you're able to score," Wellwood told Vancouver's Web
site "It was nice to get one tonight."
Alex Burrows scored short-handed to give him 13 goals and two assists over a
10-game point streak, while Christian Ehrhoff and Mason Raymond also tallied
in Vancouver's third straight win. The Canucks are also 10-3-1 over their last
14 games and are two points behind Colorado for first place in the Northwest
Already without regular defenseman Willie Mitchell (upper body) and Kevin
Bieksa (left ankle), Sami Salo left the Dallas game with a lower-body injury
and is questionable for tonight along with Mitchell. Bieksa remains on injured
To add depth, the Canucks recalled defenseman Nolan Baumgartner from Manitoba
of the American Hockey League on Friday.
Vancouver won the opener of a four-game homestand on Thursday and claimed a
victory for the sixth time in its last eight home games. The Canucks are
20-7-1 as the host this year.
01/23 11:09:33 ET