DUCKS (19-19-7) at BLACKHAWKS (31-10-4)
Anaheim 5-5-0; Chicago 8-1-1
Third of four meetings between these teams and the second they will play at the United Center in as many Sunday nights. Marian Hossa
scored a pair of goals 2:27 apart early in the third period as the Blackhawks claimed a 5-2 win on Jan. 3. Teemu Selanne scored twice and Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped all 28 shots he faced as the Ducks won 3-0 on Nov. 27 and ended Chicago's eight-game winning streak. The teams will meet for the final time in the regular season on March 17 at the Honda Center.
The Blackhawks' five-game winning streak, which included that previous win over the Ducks, came to a stunning end Saturday night as they blew a four-goal lead in the third period at Minnesota and lost an eight-round shootout to the Wild. For a team that has given up the fewest goals in the Western Conference (only Chicago and New Jersey have allowed less than 100 goals this season), it was a decidedly unexpected result.
Selanne didn't just rejoin the Anaheim lineup Saturday night, he made his presence felt immediately. The Finnish Flash, who missed the previous 17 games with a broken bone in his hand, opened the scoring in Nashville with 7:50 left in the first period and the Ducks went on to a 3-2 win over the Predators, their third in a row. It seems like only a prolonged winning streak will get them back into the Western Conference race at this point, and this is a good start.
An eight-game road trip looms for Chicago after this brief two-game homestand that also sees the Blue Jackets come to town on Thursday. The Blackhawks will conclude a home-and-home in Columbus on Saturday, starting a journey that also takes them to Detroit, Ottawa, Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton, San Jose and Carolina. Before they leave the friendly confines of the United Center, the Hawks would like to add to their League-best 20-4-1 record on home ice.
Anaheim forward Matt Beleskey
needed 24 games to score his first NHL goal but has now put the puck in the net in three straight. Ryan Getzlaf
tied Corey Perry
for the team lead in scoring with 44 points by recording a goal and an assist against Nashville.
Chicago's leading scorer, Patrick Kane
, extended his points streak to 11 games with a pair of assists Saturday. He has nine goals and nine assists during that span. Kris Versteeg has three goals and five assists during a seven-game points streak. Duncan Keith
has two goals and four assists during a four-game points streak.
Forward Joffrey Lupul is sidelined for the Ducks following back surgery. … Blackhawks defenseman Cam Barker hasn't played since suffering an upper-body injury the last time these teams met. Forward Dave Bolland
remains out after back surgery while forward Adam Burish has not played this season following knee surgery.
Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook
is among the League leaders in plus-minus rating with a plus-22. … Giguere has started both of the Ducks' games against the Blackhawks this season, but Jonas Hiller
has been the man in goal throughout their current winning streak. Hiller has allowed two goals or less in each game, improving his record this season to 15-12-2 to go with a 2.78 goals-against average and .916 save percentage.
This will be the second game in 24 hours for both teams -- if you're a believer in momentum, the Ducks would certainly seem to carry it after their critical win in Nashville. Against the powerful Blackhawks, however, momentum will only take them so far -- Anaheim must come ready to play or Chicago is liable to take out some of its anger over blowing Saturday's game at the Ducks' expense.