Chicago fell 5-3 to the Washington Capitals on Sunday night, seeing Patrick Kane's game-tying goal in the third answered less than two minutes later before Washington added an empty netter for insurance late. The loss ended a three-game point streak and a two-game win streak for the Blackhawks, who remain tied for the fewest games played in the NHL. Kane leads the team with three goals and five assists in six games played.
Vegas saw a two-game win streak of their own end on Monday night with a 6-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on the road. Reilly Smith scored his team-leading seventh of the season, bringing his point total to 10 on the year (7G, 3A).
Last season, the Blackhaws picked up one point in three tries against the Golden Knights, falling 8-3 at home on Nov. 27 and 4-3 on the road on Dec. 6 before dropping a 4-3 OT loss back at the United Center on Jan. 12. Kane (1G, 3A) led Chicago in scoring, while Max Pacioretty (6A) led the way offensively for Vegas.
Jeremy Colliton told reporters after morning skate that the Blackhawks will roll the same lineup from Sunday's loss to Washington, except Robin Lehner will take over in goal for Corey Crawford. Kirby Dach will make his second NHL start, while Slater Koekkoek, Brendan Perlini and Zack Smith are all healthy scratches for the second straight game.
Ryan Carpenter, coming a career-high-tying 83 percent faceoff rate in Sunday's loss to the Capitals, will face his former team for the first time after signing as a free agent on July 1. The center played 104 games for the Golden Knights over the last two campaigns with 32 points (14G, 18A).
With Lehner back in goal, Chicago continues an even split in net during their seven-game homestand. Crawford has played three of the first five, while Lehner will see his third start of the season tonight in the sixth.
"I think they're both pretty good, I'll tell you that right now," defenseman Olli Maatta said. "It seems like all the games they've been in, they've been giving us a chance to win."
The defensive corps as a whole has settled in with just five 5-on-5 goals allowed over the last four games. It doesn't seem to make a difference which netminder is gets the call, with a 50-50 split of time in net during that stretch. Crawford has been in net for two, Lehner for three.
"They're a little bit different styles, for sure," Colliton said. "It's not as if we're going to play a different system when he's in, but they're a little bit different. It's good for the team, I think, that who we're facing, it's not the same look no matter what."
"I think the biggest thing is just playing the puck a little different," Maatta said. "It just comes down to communication. I think that doesn't change. For us, getting available and talking to the goalie, whoever is in there. That's the same."