BLACKHAWKS (8-2-2) at LIGHTNING (5-5-2)
TV: NHLN-US (HD), CSN-Chicago (HD), SUN (HD)
Last 10 : Chicago 7-1-2; Tampa Bay 4-4-2
Season Series : This is the only meeting of the season between these two inter-conference opponents. In 2010-11, Tampa Bay swept a pair of late-season matchups, winning in a shootout at home and by a 2-0 score in Chicago.
Big Story : Tampa Bay welcomes Chicago in the midst of a rough patch. Losses to struggling Nashville and Carolina and a tenuous home win over Winnipeg don't resemble the same Bolts that were on the brink of the Stanley Cup Final last spring. The Hawks come to town after a 3-2 shootout win at Florida on Thursday, their eighth victory in 12 games this season.
Blackhawks : Chicago looks like a team on a mission to regain the Stanley Cup they won in 2010. Not only are the Blackhawks are as sharp as ever in the attack - 36 goals is good for fifth overall - but they are also killing opponent power play chances 91.9 percent of the time, third-best in the NHL. Offensively, the Blackhawks become even more dangerous when you factor in Marion Hossa and Patrick Kane's recent surge. Each had three points against Nashville and contributed in Thursday's win at Florida.
Backup Ray Emery will play against the Lightning, but second-year goalie Corey Crawford continues to shpw that his solid rookie season was no fluke. Crawford stopped 41 shots through 65 minutes Thursday night, then denied all three Florida shooters in the shootout victory against the Panthers, giving him a 5-2-2 record.
"To me, at the end of the night it was a goalie win," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Crow was great for us and kept us in there. It wasn't pretty, but give Crow some credit."
Lightning: After losing five in a row following an opening-night win, Tampa Bay has won four of its last six. Still, a comprehensive 4-2 defeat to Carolina on Tuesday exposed some residual early-season jitters. Following their toughest practice of the year Wednesday, coach Guy Boucher said his team lacked consistency.
"It's about who wants it most, and about who's willing to pay the price," Boucher said of the constant toughness drills throughout practice. "It's a habit. So if we don't have that habit, we're not going to have a successful year, and we're not going to do well in the playoffs. And habit is not just once in a while -- it's every time."
Tampa Bay has won three in a row at home, allowing just one goal. Dwayne Roloson recorded a shutout in Saturday's 1-0 win over Winnipeg, but gave up four goals on 31 shots against Carolina.
Who's Hot : If Tampa Bay is going to get back on track, expect Marc-Andre Bergeron to key the attack from deep. The defenseman has points in eight of his last 10 games.
Injury Report : Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith missed Thursday's game at Florida with an injury to his left hand and won't play Friday … For Tampa Bay, defensemen Mattias Ohlund and Scott Jackson remain on injured reserve after both underwent recent knee surgeries.
Stat Pack : It looks as though former No. 1 pick Kane is poised for another big season -- he has 12 points through 12 games, enjoyed a three-point night at Nashville on Monday and notched the game-winner in the shootout Thursday. With nine of their next 12 games coming on the road -- where they are just 3-2-0 this season -- Chicago needs Kane to keep creating.
Puck Drop : Whatever the outcome, a streak will come to an end Friday night. The Lightning has won three consecutive in Tampa Bay, while the Blackhawks are winners in three straight overall. If it stays close, the Blackhawks may have an edge -- in their streak, they slipped past Nashville in overtime and Florida in a shootout.
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