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Blackhawks aim to keep streak alive against Canucks

by David Kalan

CANUCKS (8-3-3) at BLACKHAWKS (12-0-3)


Last 10: Vancouver 6-2-2, Chicago 7-0-3.

Season series: The Vancouver Canucks hold the rare distinction of actually leading their season series with Chicago. The Canucks won their only previous meeting with the Blackhawks, a 2-1 shootout victory on Feb. 1.

Big story: The Chicago Blackhawks are 60 minutes away from rarified air, as they look to join the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks as the only two teams to start a season with 16 games without a regulation loss. That might not be so easy with the Northwest Division-leading Canucks standing in Chicago's way.

Team Scope:

Canucks: Much of the ink on hot teams in the West has gone to Chicago, but until this past weekend Vancouver was on an impressive hot streak of its own. The Canucks won six straight games while embattled goalie Roberto Luongo performed well enough that he appeared to seize the team's starting role. Their last two outings, however have been particularly frustrating defeats; not only were both games at home, but in each game -- a regulation loss to Dallas on Friday and a shootout loss to St. Louis Sunday night -- the Canucks let a third-period lead slip away.

Vancouver still holds the lead in the Northwest, but Minnesota and Edmonton have begun to creep up on first place. Holding that advantage could get tricky in the immediate future for the Canucks. Their tilt in Chicago Tuesday night opens a four-game road trip that will also take them to Dallas, Nashville and Detroit.

Blackhawks: The most impressive thing about Chicago's start might not be that it hasn't suffered a regulation loss in 15 games, but rather that the Blackhawks played 10 of their first 12 games away from home. Since returning to the United Center for a seven-game homestand it's been more of the same, as the Blackhawks have gone 2-0-1 in their first three games back in Chicago, including a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings in their last game Sunday afternoon.

The Blackhawks now stand on the edge of history as a win, overtime loss or shootout loss will give them 16 games without a regulation loss to start the season a feat equaled only by Anaheim six years ago. Those Ducks ended up winning the Stanley Cup that June. Equaling that feat is obviously the Blackhawks' ultimate goal, but even with a potential Stanley Cup Final trip months away, they'll have an opportunity to write their names in the record books Tuesday night.

Who's hot: Daniel Sedin has seven points in his last six games for Vancouver. ... Duncan Keith has been giving Chicago an offensive boost from the blue line with six assists in his last five games.

Injury report: Goalie Corey Crawford (upper-body injury) is doubtful for Chicago. While his exact date of return has not been announced, it is believed that David Booth (lower-body injury) may return for Vancouver during its current road trip.

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