PANTHERS (9-16-5) at BLACKHAWKS (20-6-5)
TV: FS-F; WGN
Last 10: Florida 5-4-1; Chicago 6-3-1
Season series: This is the second and final game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Florida Panthers. Chicago beat Florida 3-2 in a shootout at BB&T Center on Oct. 22 and has won the past four games between the teams.
Big story: One team has a two-game winning streak, the other has lost three in a row. Surprisingly, at least judging by their position in the standings, it's the Panthers who bring a winning streak into United Center.
Panthers: It was a happy flight to Chicago on Saturday night after the Panthers did something they had accomplished just once in their history: They beat the Detroit Red Wings in regulation at Joe Louis Arena. Jimmy Hayes scored in the second period and Jonathan Huberdeau broke a tie early in the third for a 2-1 victory, their first in regulation in Detroit since Dec. 1, 1996. The Panthers, perhaps taking advantage of an opponent that had played the night before, outshot Detroit 37-23, including 26-14 after two periods.
"This is one of the toughest buildings to play in. We wanted to play with energy. They had to play last night," Panthers coach Peter Horachek said. "I think the guys worked real hard and capitalized on the chances we had."
Blackhawks: Chicago went 6-1-0 on its annual "Circus Trip," but there haven't been many smiles around the Blackhawks since they returned. The defending Stanley Cup champs come into Sunday's game on an 0-2-1 slide that includes a 3-2 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks at United Center on Friday.
Part of the problem has been a penalty-killing unit that's struggling. Anaheim tied the game Friday night by scoring a power-play goal with one second left in the second period; one night earlier, the Blackhawks allowed the Minnesota Wild to score twice in three chances, including the tying goal late in the third period. For the season, they're at 71.8 percent on the penalty kill, next-to-last in the NHL.
"They're going in," coach Joel Quenneville said Saturday, according to the Chicago Tribune, when asked about opponents' power-play chances. "There are some things technically we need to do better. You want to make sure there's some cohesiveness and get some confidence. We had a stretch [when] we looked like we had it stabilized and they were still going in. It's disappointing knowing it could be the differential in winning games."
Who's hot: Hayes, part of the return the Panthers received when they sent forward Kris Versteeg to the Blackhawks last month, has scored goals in back-to-back games. … Patrick Kane leads Chicago with 34 points and has a goal and five assists in his past four games.
Injury report: Defenseman Ed Jovanovski (hip) hasn't played a game for the Panthers this season, though he's listed as day-to-day. … Chicago forward Bryan Bickell and goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin are both on injured reserve with lower-body injuries. Forward Andrew Shaw missed Chicago's past two games with an upper-body injury but is expected to play Sunday; the Blackhawks returned Joakim Nordstrom to Rockford of the American Hockey League on Saturday.
|Back to top|