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Staying Sharp: Blackhawks aim to extend win streak vs. Pens

Patrick Sharp and the sizzling Chicago Blackhawks will try for a sixth consecutive victory when they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight at Consol Energy Center.

The Blackhawks have won five in a row for the first time this season and have yet to lose in regulation this month, compiling a 7-0-1 ledger in December. Chicago is also 9-1-1 since a three-game losing streak from Nov. 18-23.

Sharp has been an offensive force lately for the Blackhawks, recording a point in a career-best nine straight games. Chicago's valuable two-way forward has seven goals and six assists during the run and his 35 points this season is second on the team to only Marian Hossa.

Hossa, who has 36 points, also enters tonight on a five-game point streak and he tallied a goal and an assist to lift Chicago to its latest victory, a 4-2 home win over the Calgary Flames on Saturday.

Steve Montador, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Patrick Kane also lit the lamp for Chicago, which is on its first five-game winning streak since it posted eight consecutive victories from Feb. 20-March 5 of last season.

Ray Emery made 22 saves for Saturday's win, which was Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville' 600th career victory.

"They all feel good. There's nothing better than winning," Quenneville said.

Emery came into this season as the clear No. 2 behind Corey Crawford, but Quenneville has been relying heavily on the former netminder of late. Emery, who is 9-1-2 on the season, has started all five games on the current winning streak. With Chicago playing on back-to-back nights, it's unclear if Emery or Crawford will get the call tonight.

The Blackhawks, who are 10-6-1 on the road this year, will be on home ice tomorrow to host the Montreal Canadiens.

Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook suffered a head injury in Saturday's game and will not play tonight. Blackhawks forward Daniel Carcillo (upper body) is questionable after sitting out the last two games.

The Penguins have dealt with substantial injuries lately and the missing personnel is beginning to take its toll on Pittsburgh, which has lost four of its last six games.

However, the injuries didn't slow down the Pens against Buffalo on Saturday, as Evgeni Malkin netted his seventh career hat trick and added two assists in Pittsburgh's 8-3 rout of the visiting Sabres.

Deryk Engelland, Chris Kunitz, Jason Williams, James Neal and Simon Despres also lit the lamp for Pittsburgh. Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 16 saves, became just the second goaltender in franchise history to reach 200 wins, joining Tom Barrasso (226).

Despite Penguins captain Sidney Crosby still sidelined due to post-concussion syndrome, the hosts scored three times in the game's first 10 minutes on Saturday and snapped a two-game skid.

In addition to Crosby, Kris Letang, Robert Bortuzzo and Zbynek Michalek are also sidelined currently with concussions. Forward Jordan Staal (lower body) and defenseman Paul Martin (leg) are also day-to-day.

Pittsburgh is 9-3-2 as the host this year and is completing a brief two-game homestand tonight.

The Blackhawks have won the last two meetings against Pittsburgh and the last four encounters between the clubs have gone past regulation. The Pens had won four straight in this series on home ice before Chicago notched a 2-1 overtime win in the Steel City on Dec. 5, 2009.