CHI: 24-20-6, 54 PTS (T-4th in Central) FLA: 26-16-5, 57 PTS (3rd in Atlantic)
LAST TIME OUT
Chicago took a 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday night as Alex Nylander and Erik Gustafsson each had a goal and an assist and Patrick Kane scored his 1,000th NHL point with an assist on Brandon Saad's goal in the third period. The helper also extended Kane's point streak (4G, 11A) to 10 games. Robin Lehner made 36 saves in the win.
Florida took a 5-4 comeback win over the Minnesota Wild on Monday night on a last-minute goal from Noel Acciari. Keith Yandle led the way with a goal and three assists on the night and Sergei Bobrovski stopped 29 of the 33 shots he faced on the night.
The clubs split their two games during the 2018-19 campaign with both teams winning away from their home rinks, Chicago a 5-4 victory in South Florida on Nov. 24 and a 6-3 loss at home on Dec. 23. Kane (1G, 2A) and Dylan Strome (1G, 2A) paced the club with three points each against the Panthers last year.
Robin Lehner will start for the second straight game as the Blackhawks dress the exact same lineup from Sunday's win over the Jets.
Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville will return to the United Center for the very first time after leading the Blackhawks to three Stanley Cups and 452 regular-season games in his 11-plus years Chicago's head coach.
Jeremy Colliton was named the 38th all-time head coach of the Blackhawks on Nov. 6, 2018.
"Want to win the game, for sure," Jonathan Toews said with a smile after morning skate. "That's a hot team over there and I imagine Joel really wants to win this game especially. It's a friendly competition against a team we don't see too often, but the points are important for us and for them as well. Aside from us wanting to get that win over Coach Q and likewise, it's a big game for both teams."
"It'll be different. I think it'll be a little weird for all of us playing against him. I'm sure he'll have a lot of emotions coming back here too," Kane added. "You know he's going to get a warm reception, he was so loved here in Chicago and he's like an icon in the city. He's done so much, obviously the championships he's been a part of and how he's helped us come along as players and the visual the fans would have of him on the bench obviously being stern and mean. At the same time, we accepted him as a players' coach. Great guy, great coach, a man's man and it'll be good to see the reception he gets tonight."
Chicago brings a 7-1-0 record into the night against Atlantic Division foes, falling only to the Tampa Bay Lightning at home on Nov. 21, 4-2. In their seven wins against the Atlantic, the Blackhawks have outscored their opponents 30-15, including a perfect 3-0 road trip against Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto last week in the midst of the five-game win streak.
The Blackhawks also own a winning record against the division on the opposite side of the continent, going 7-6-3 against Pacific Division teams this season.
Toews was named the NHL's Third Star for the week ending Jan. 19 after pacing the league with nine points (3G, 9A) in four games, including the overtime game-winning goal on Monday in Ottawa. With an assist on Sunday night, he has notched a point in six straight games (4G, 9A), including a season-high four points (2G, 2A) on Saturday in Toronto.
Since Jan. 1, he paces the NHL with 16 points and 11 helpers. He recorded three multi-point games in a row (Jan. 9-14) for the first time since Dec. 31-Jan. 5 during the 2017-18 campaign.