The Chicago Blackhawks’ current six-game win streak was started by a 3-2 shoot out victory over an Eastern Conference team. If they want their streak to reach seven, the Blackhawks will have to be another team from the Eastern Conference.
The Blackhawks face the first of five consecutive East opponents Friday night when they welcome the Carolina Hurricanes to the United Center.
Chicago (35-23-6) began its streak with a shootout victory over Pittsburgh on Feb. 20 and has topped five straight West foes since then. Four wins came against teams that, like the Blackhawks, are in a tight race for the conference’s final playoff spots.
“It was huge four-point games every night, and it put us in a good spot,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We got some Eastern Conference foes here that we don’t see much, but we have to have the same intensity and emotion going into these games.”
Following this contest, the Blackhawks travel to face Toronto, Florida, Tampa Bay and Washington.
Quenneville, whose team is 6-3-0 against the East this season, would probably also like to see a more complete effort. The Blackhawks blew a two-goal lead Sunday in a shootout win over Phoenix, and nearly gave away a three-goal advantage in a 4-2 victory at Minnesota the next night.
In Wednesday’s 6-4 win over Calgary, Chicago led by three entering the final period but let the Flames get within a goal twice. Marian Hossa put the game away by scoring in his fifth straight contest.
Michael Frolik registered his first points in 10 games with Chicago with a goal and two assists, and Jonathan Toews continued his red-hot play by scoring twice.
The Blackhawks captain has 25 points over his last 15 games and 13 during a seven-game streak.
“Johnny’s got it going,” Quenneville said. “He’s finishing well. He’s a horse out there.”
Chicago might need Toews’ help to record only its second win in 11 matchups with the Hurricanes (31-25-9). Its previous win, 3-2 in a shootout on March 11, 2009, snapped a four-game home losing streak in the series.
The Blackhawks, though, enter this game 8-1-2 in their last 11, and winners of three straight at home – one shy of matching their season high. They’re on their best overall run since winning eight in a row Nov. 9-25, 2009 for the longest streak during their Stanley Cup-winning campaign.
The Hurricanes, meanwhile, have won three of four to rise to seventh in the East, but are only three points up on a playoff berth. They earned their latest win, 3-2 over ninth-place Buffalo on Thursday, as Jamie McBain scored 26 seconds into overtime.
“The playoffs are now, really, when you look at the standings, and you look at the teams we’re playing against,” forward Erik Cole said. “Every point is valuable.”
Cam Ward also stopped 27 shots and could get the chance to add to his strong record against Chicago on Friday. He’s 2-0-1 with a 1.30 goals-against average in three all-time meetings.
The Blackhawks’ Corey Crawford lost his only start against Carolina on March 12, 2008, at the United Center while Marty Turco is 3-2-0 with a 2.13 GAA in his last six matchups.
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