(WSCR) – The Blackhawks and Red Wings will add another game to their long-standing rivalry tonight in the United Center. The game will not only pit two of the league’s oldest franchises against each other, but it will also matchup two of the last three Stanley Cup champions.
The Chicago Blackhawks snapped the Detroit Red Wings’ streak of Central Division titles in 2009-10. The Blackhawks may not have much chance of keeping the crown if they don’t have success in the season series with the Wings.
The Wings look to deal the Blackhawks a season-high fourth straight loss and second in as many head-to-head matchups in 2010-11 on Friday night at the United Center.
Chicago (16-14-3) ended Detroit’s eight-year stay atop the Central en route to its first Stanley Cup in 49 years, but is trying to stay out of the division cellar this season.
The Red Wings (20-7-3) are atop the Western Conference and eight points up on Chicago. That’s due in part to a 3-2 road victory Oct. 9 that opened the teams’ six-game season series and was Detroit’s third straight over Chicago.
Detroit rebounded from being shut out for the first time in 2010-11 with a 5-2 victory over St. Louis on Wednesday night, as 40-year-old captain Nicklas Lidstrom registered his first career hat trick.
“He’s done everything else, might as well do that,” coach Mike Babcock said. “We needed a big win tonight, and we got it. That’s what’s most important.”
The Red Wings have scored 13 times during a 3-1-0 stretch after totaling six goals during a season-worst 0-2-1 skid. They’ve also had no problem finding the net during their three straight wins over the Blackhawks – all in Chicago.
Detroit has scored 11 times in those victories, although it won by one goal each time. Valtteri Filppula’s two goals lifted the Red Wings to the victory Oct. 9.
Filppula has a team-best three goals in the win streak over the Blackhawks, but has managed one assist in his last seven games.
Red Wings forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, however, have 13 points apiece in the last nine contests. Zetterberg tied a career high with four assists Wednesday.
The Blackhawks are having trouble just getting their stars on the ice. Forward Marian Hossa is expected to miss his eighth straight contest because of a lower-body injury and Patrick Kane’s sprained left ankle will likely keep him out of a fifth consecutive game.
It appeared Kane might return after practicing Wednesday, but he is listed as doubtful. Fernando Pisani is expected to return from an upper-body injury, but fellow forward Viktor Stalberg will likely sit out after leaving a 4-3 loss to Colorado on Wednesday with a similar ailment.
Chicago’s Troy Brouwer scored his fourth goal in four games in that defeat and Bryan Bickell had his fourth in five contests. However, the Avalanche scored twice on a four-minute power play they got when Jordan Hendry was called for high-sticking, breaking a 1-all tie.
Chicago hasn’t lost four straight since a 0-3-2 skid from March 13-20, 2009.
“You can talk all day about doing some good things out there and working for chances, giving second effort, but it just doesn’t cut it when you don’t get the results that you want,” captain Jonathan Toews said.
Chicago’s Corey Crawford has dropped three straight since a seven-game winning streak, although he suffered the loss in a 7-5 defeat to Colorado on Monday despite stopping 17 of 19 shots in relief of Marty Turco.