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Preview: Flames vs. Blackhawks

by Staff Writer / Calgary Flames

The Chicago Blackhawks and Calgary Flames both have been struggling on the power play this season, but each team has a reason to feel like it is about to turn things around.

Coming off a dominating road win, the Blackhawks return to the United Center on Friday night to take on the Flames, who will get Mikael Backlund back in the lineup.

Chicago (9-4-3) scored two power-play goals on three chances in a 6-3 win at Columbus on Thursday, snapping a three-game losing streak. The Blackhawks had gone 0 for 9 with the man advantage in their previous two games, temporarily dropping to last in the NHL on the power play at 8.8 percent (5 for 57).

Jonathan Toews had two goals and an assist Thursday while Andrew Brunette and Steve Montador had power-play goals in the second period. Chicago hadn't recorded more than one power-play goal in any of its first 15 contests.

"We had a real good first period and then all of a sudden we get the power play going and we get some excitement in our team, as well," coach Joel Quenneville said. "It was nice to see a couple nice plays, a couple nice finishes around the net."

The Blackhawks will try to build on that performance at home, where they are 0 for 20 on the power play the last four games and 3 for 36 (8.3 percent) this season. Despite those struggles, Chicago is 5-1-2 at home.

Calgary (6-7-1) has experienced its own problems on special teams, going 0 for 7 on the power play in a 3-0 loss to Minnesota on Tuesday. The Flames are 8 for 52 (15.4 percent) with the man advantage this season, although they are 6 for 18 on the road.

"We all got frustrated out there," forward Alex Tanguay said. "We all wanted to do a little bit more and we're all pressing it a little bit. We're confident we're going to be better and we're going to get ready for the next game."

They could be helped by the expected return of Backlund, who has been sidelined with a broken finger suffered during a practice prior to the season opener. He had 10 goals and 25 points in 73 games last season, primarily playing between Jarome Iginla and Tanguay.

"He is a quick guy and creative with that offensive instinct. I think he'll be a good boost for our team," Iginla said. "Last year, we were able to find some good chemistry as a line. ... Hopefully, we will be able to keep going where we left off."

Calgary has been in a scoring slump recently, scoring three goals in its last three games. Iginla has been held to one assist and is a minus-2 during that stretch.

Iginla has been more productive on the road, though, with three of his four goals coming in six contests away from home. Iginla's also had good success against the Blackhawks, with five goals and three assists in four meetings last season.

Including the 2009 postseason, however, Chicago is 14-4-0 in its last 18 against Calgary, winning nine straight at home by a combined score of 42-20. Toews had five points in last season's series.

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