|After enduring one of their longest losing streaks in years and falling out of contention for the Central Division (at least for the time being), the Chicago Blackhawks shook off a disastrous slide by beating the New York Rangers 4-2 at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night – their first victory in nearly a month. |
Not only did the Blackhawks snap a nine-game losing skid and steady their ship, but they were dominant at times against the NHL’s top club and made sure backup goalie Marty Biron didn’t last more than 10 minutes last night for the Rangers. It was an impressive performance by head coach Joel Quenneville’s team, which got off on the right foot when captain Jonathan Toews scored on a penalty shot just 1:04 into the game. Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi was called for closing his hand on the puck in the crease, awarding Toews an opportunity he wouldn’t pass up.
When they get together with the Blue Jackets for a matinee today at Nationwide Arena, the Blackhawks will be in pursuit of back-to-back wins for the first time since Jan. 18-20 and come into the game having won all four meetings this year against Columbus. No one has had more success in the season series than Viktor Stalberg, who always seems to have a big game vs. the Blue Jackets. In the last meeting, he notched a hat trick and led Chicago to a 5-2 win at United Center on Jan. 10 – Todd Richards’ first game as interim head coach.
The Blue Jackets are playing better hockey now than they were entering that game in Chicago, and have an opportunity to win for the fifth time in seven games this afternoon. Coming off an emotional 2-1 win over the St. Louis Blues earlier this week, Columbus has had a few days to re-charge and get ready for a Blackhawks team that will be desperate to build on its win and climb the Western Conference standings.
Corey Crawford appears to be the starting goaltender for the Blackhawks, and Steve Mason is expected to start between the pipes for the Blue Jackets.
| || || |
|Nash (18) ||Toews (28) |
|Prospal (25) ||Hossa (34) |
|Nash (39) ||Hossa (56) |
|Dorsett (148) ||Carcillo (82) |
|MacKenzie (+5) ||Hossa (+21) |
|Sanford (10-13-4) |
|Crawford (19-14-5) |
|Sanford (2.52) ||Emery (2.82) |
|Sanford (.915) ||Emery, Crawford (.899) || |
|• The Blue Jackets have won four of the last six games after going winless the previous six outings (0-5-1). Columbus is 4-4-0 its last eight home games after going 0-5-2 the previous seven at Nationwide Arena. |
• Derek Dorsett pushed his career high in goals to 10 on Tuesday vs. St. Louis, snapping a five-game skid. His previous best was four, set three times previously (last season, most recent). The game-winning goal was the second of his NHL career, as his first came in his fifth career NHL game, Oct. 21, 2008 vs. Vancouver, a span of 228 games.
• Tonight marks the fifth of six meetings overall and second of three meetings at Nationwide Arena this season between the Blue Jackets and Blackhawks. Columbus is 28-31-8 all-time against Chicago, including a 15-13-5 mark at Nationwide Arena.
• Steve Mason stopped 31-of-32 shots Tuesday against the Blues to notch his seventh win of the season. It was his 84th win as a Blue Jacket in his 203rd game, matching the franchise record for wins set by Marc Denis in 266 games. Mason has gone 2-1-0 with a 2.35 goals-against average and .931 save percentage his last three games after going 0-4-0 with a 4.67 goals-against average and .855 save percentage his previous five starts.