Streaking Blackhawks set to visit Blue Jackets

Published March 20, 2012

| Sports Network

The surging Chicago Blackhawks will try to continue their dominance of the Columbus Blue Jackets when the Central Division foes meet tonight at Nationwide Arena.

The Blackhawks enter this evening's tilt in Ohio having won three straight and Chicago has compiled a 7-1-1 record over its last nine trips to the ice. The club expects its recent winning ways to carry over into tonight's contest, as Chicago has won six straight and eight of its last nine meetings with the lowly Blue Jackets.

Although Chicago is fourth in the Central Division, the Blackhawks are 35 points ahead of fifth-place Columbus in the standings. The Blackhawks are also seeded sixth in the Western Conference, where it trails Nashville and Detroit by four points and is five ahead of Phoenix and Colorado.

Chicago posted its third win in a row with Sunday's decisive win over the visiting Washington Capitals. Rookie forward Andrew Shaw scored twice and added an assist to lead the Blackhawks to the 5-2 decision at Verizon Center.

Bryan Bickell had a goal and two assists while Viktor Stalberg and Patrick Kane each had a goal for the Blackhawks. Corey Crawford allowed two goals on 18 shots in the win.

"We had some good plays tonight," said Crawford. "Our defense did a good job of cutting them off and getting them off the puck when they gained the zone. With the good start the guys made it easy for me tonight."

The Blackhawks played their 13th straight game without captain Jonathan Toews on Sunday and it's still uncertain when the centerman will be able to return from his concussion. Although he hasn't played since Feb. 19, Toews is still leading Chicago with 29 goals this year.

Chicago has a poor 15-18-3 road record this season, but it has won three of its four away games in March.

The Blue Jackets, who have already been eliminated from postseason contention, snapped a four-game losing streak on Sunday by earning a shootout win over the playoff-hopeful Calgary Flames. Cam Atkinson scored the only goal of the shootout phase to lift Columbus to the 2-1 victory at Calgary's Scotiabank Saddledome.

Atkinson, who was participating in his first NHL shootout, deked to his forehand and ran into Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff as he slipped the puck into the right side of the net in the fourth round. Steve Mason then stopped Jarome Iginla's shot at the other end for his fourth save in the shootout.

Mason made 28 saves in relief of Curtis Sanford, who had to be helped off the ice in the first period after suffering what the Blue Jackets said was a lower body injury.

Sanford will not be available tonight and defenseman James Wisniewski will also miss this evening's tilt after getting hit in the face with a puck on Sunday. Columbus recalled goaltender Allen York and defenseman David Savard from Springfield of the AHL to fill in for Sanford and Wisniewski.

Tonight's tilt marks the start of a three-game homestand for the Blue Jackets, who are 13-19-3 as the host this season.

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2012/03/20/streaking-blackhawks-set-to-visit-blue-jackets/