Sliding Blackhawks begin home-and-home vs. Panthers

( - The Chicago Blackhawks aim to avoid posting their longest losing streak in over a year on Tuesday night when they kick off a home-and-home series with the Florida Panthers.

The Blackhawks have lost a season-high three in a row to fall to 2-2-3 on an eight-game homestand that wraps tonight. Chicago will then visit Florida on Thursday.

A 6-2 setback to the Boston Bruins on Sunday has the Blackhawks looking to switch things up and netminder Scott Darling will start tonight. Darling, who also signed a two-year extension upon being called up later on Sunday, is 5-2-0 in seven career starts with a 1.97 goals against average and .937 save percentage.

Antti Raanta was reassigned to the minors to make room for Darling and he allowed a pair of goals on 16 shots Sunday in relief of starter Corey Crawford, who was blitzed for four goals on 14 shots faced.

Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell each had a goal for the Blackhawks, who haven't lost four a row since Jan. 22-28 of last year.

"There's not much to say after a game like this," said Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville. "First period we played OK, but it went downhill quickly in the second. You can never be happy about anything that happens in a game like this."

The Blackhawks also will be without defenseman Johnny Oduya for a few weeks due to an upper-body injury. They lead the fourth-place Winnipeg Jets by just four points in the Central Division and sit five points out of second place.

The 'Hawks do come in riding a five-game series win streak over the Panthers and have won each of the previous three meetings in Chicago. They have not lost in the Windy City to Florida since Dec. 16, 2007.

The Panthers do have a credited road win over the Blackhawks following a victory over them on Oct. 2, 2009 in Finland.

Florida will try to finish off a five-game road trip on a positive note before beginning a seven-game homestand on Thursday. The Panthers won the first two of their swing before a 4-1 loss at Ottawa on Saturday and a 5-1 setback to Pittsburgh the following day.

The Panthers have lost five of their past seven games and saw goaltender Al Montoya yield five goals on 26 shots faced, while Penguins netminder Marc- Andre Fleury posted 34 saves.

"Fleury was the difference the first part of the game," Florida coach Gerard Gallant said.

Scottie Upshall had the only goal of the game for the Panthers, who trail the Bruins by three points for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Roberto Luongo is likely to start tonight for Florida and is 15-11-2 lifetime versus the Blackhawks with a 2.24 GAA, .928 save percentage and four shutouts in 30 games (29 starts).