The Chicago Blackhawks look to continue a six-game win streak Tuesday night as they welcome Dallas to the United Center for the third of five season meetings between the two Western Conference contenders.
Patrick Kane has registered 19 points in 15 games for the Hawks, including 9 goals and a 12-game scoring streak. His play is resembling that of last season. Kane’s hands are quick as ever and his passes are consistently tape-to-tape, contributing to his 14 assists this season. He’ll be a nemesis for Dallas at the Madhouse Tuesday night, who have struggled of late.
Dallas managed to pick up a point in each of its last two games but dropped both contests in extra time, including an 11-round shootout loss to Chicago at the American Airlines Center last Friday. The Stars are last in the Central Division and recently found themselves plagued by injuries. Stephane Robidas suffered a broken leg after a horrific injury in last Friday’s contest against the Hawks and is expected to be out for at least six weeks. Meanwhile Tyler Seguin, whom Dallas counted on to propel the Stars into postseason contention, exhibited “concussion-like symptoms” over the weekend and will not play in the Madhouse Tuesday night.
Injury-prone Nikolai Khabibulin suffered a lower-body injury in mid-November and Crawford, who already took a majority of the starts to that point, had the onus placed on his shoulders. But Antti Raanta took over Chicago’s final two games of November and earned both wins, allowing six goals and registering a .917 save percentage. Despite the spectacular NHL debut of Raanta for the Blackhawks last week, Corey Crawford will get the nod in net for Chicago Tuesday night.
Crawford leads the league in both games played (24) and wins (17), further establishing himself as one of the league’s top goaltenders. The goaltender controversy that plagued Chicago after winning the Stanley Cup in 2010 seems to be over and Crawford couldn’t be happier.
“I feel pretty good right now,” Crawford told Comcast SportsNet Monday. “I made an adjustment to step out further the last bunch of games, which has helped on tips and screens and point shots.”
Duncan Keith was named last week’s NHL Third Star of the Week, and deservedly so. He is tied with Sidney Crosby with the third most assists this season with 23. Keith leads the Blackhawks averaging more than 24 minutes of ice time per game, including more than 3 minutes of Power Play ice time per game. Considering that Chicago is the second-least penalized team in the league, Keith’s presence on the ice definitely makes an impact. His partner Brent Seabrook has helped make the defensive pairing a formidable opponent through physical force. He’s registered 72 hits and 48 blocked shots, including more than a dozen sprawling blocks during odd-man rushes.
Chicago can capitalize on the loss of Seguin and Robidas Tuesday night, but Dallas’ learning curve is quickly turning around. After allowing 5 goals in the first meeting of the season, a goaltender battle resulted in an 11-round shootout Friday night. Ben Smith finally cashed in to give Chicago the win, but Crawford and Kari Lehtonen brought their worst to keep the score to one goal apiece in regulation. They will likely be the deciding factor in Tuesday’s match-up at the Madhouse.
Opening faceoff is at 7 p.m. on CSN-Chi and NBC Sports Network.