The Blackhawks and idle Edmonton both have 18 points on the season to lead the conference and both Pittsburgh and Toronto control the points lead in the East with 19. Chicago has been playing well as of late, having won a season-best three games in a row for an 8-2-2 mark, and is coming off last night's 3-2 win in a shootout against the Florida Panthers.
Patrick Kane scored the only goal of the shootout, while Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa each found the back of the net for the Blackhawks, who got a season-high 41 saves from goaltender Corey Crawford.
"At the end of the night it was a goalie win, Crawford was great for us and kept us in there," Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville said.
Quenneville's squad is in the midst of playing four of five games on the road and was without defenseman Duncan Keith due to an upper-body injury in Thursday's win. Keith could be back Friday. Chicago forward Dan Carcillo returned to the ice after serving a two-game suspension for an illegal check on Joni Pitkanen of Carolina.
The Blackhawks are 3-2-0 away from the United Center, where they are a solid 5-0-2.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay is looking to rebound from Tuesday's 4-2 loss at Carolina in which goalie Dwayne Roloson made 27 saves. Roloson was done in by a two- goal second period by the Hurricanes.
"Except for the third period we didn't earn anything out there tonight," said Tampa Bay head coach Guy Boucher. "They came prepared and we didn't."
Brett Connolly scored the first goal of his career in the third period and Teddy Purcell also lit the lamp in a losing cause. The Lightning had won four of five games entering their test with the 'Canes.
Tampa Bay is 3-1-0 as the host this season as opposed to its 2-4-2 road ledger and will put a three-game home winning streak on the line Friday night. After tonight's game the team will play three of four contests as the guest. Steven Stamkos owns five goals and seven points over his past seven games for Tampa.
Chicago and Tampa Bay are meeting for the only time this season. The Lightning won both matchups a year ago, but the Blackhawks are 10-4-2 in the previous 16 games between the two clubs.