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Blackhawks-Capitals Preview @NHLdotcom
Blackhawks-Capitals Preview

GAME: Chicago Blackhawks (13-24-4) at Washington Capitals (13-23-4).

TIME: Tuesday, 7 p.m. EST.

The last thing the stumbling Chicago Blackhawks need is an injury to one of their few scoring threats.

The Blackhawks will be without second-year center Tuomo Ruutu and will try to end a 10-game losing streak when they face the Washington Capitals.

Ruutu had surgery Monday for a severed tendon in his right ankle, and the team said he will be sidelined indefinitely.

He was carried off the ice after catching his skate in the base of the net during the second period of Sunday night's 5-1 loss to the Nashville Predators. The 10-game losing streak is the Blackhawks' longest since a team-record 12-game slide to close the 1950-51 season.

Ruutu led the Blackhawks with 23 goals during his rookie season in 2003-04, but injuries have limited him to two goals and two assists in 11 games this season. The latest injury occurred in Ruutu's fourth game back after missing 30 games with back problems.

"He's had bad luck," said Mark Bell, who leads the Blackhawks with 16 goals. "I feel for that guy."

Bell scored Chicago's only goal against the Predators as the Blackhawks have scored the third fewest goals in the league with 104.

"We played right to the end. You've got to respect that for what they've gone through, but we're just a little snake-bit around the net right now," Chicago coach Trent Yawney said.

"It's gut-check time and it has been for a while. With the exception of a couple of games through this span, I can't really fault the effort. They're not trying not to score. It's not like they're missing the net purposely."

The Blackhawks have been outscored 39-17 during the losing streak.

Only three of Chicago's losses during the skid have come on the road, but the Blackhawks are still just 1-7-3 in their last 11 away from the United Center.

The Capitals lost their fourth in a row after a 4-3 shootout loss Sunday to the Florida Panthers.

Dainius Zubrus had two goals and Jamie Heward also scored for Washington, which squandered a 2-0 lead. The Capitals have had a lead in eight of their last 10 games, but have only three wins during that span.

Zubrus has a career-high five-game point streak, with four goals and three assists during that span.

Rookie star Alexander Ovechkin had two assists against the Panthers and has seven goals and eight assists in the last nine games.

The Caps are 1-3-1 in their last five home games against the Blackhawks.

STANDINGS (through Jan. 9): Blackhawks - 30 points, 3rd place, 29 PB, Central Division. Capitals - 30 points, 5th place, 28 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blackhawks - Bell, 16 goals; Tyler Arnason, 20 assists and 30 points; Matthew Barnaby and Todd Simpson, 104 PIM. Capitals - Ovechkin, 25 goals, 24 assists and 49 points; Brendan Witt, 105 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Jan. 9): Blackhawks - Power play: 12.8 percent (30 for 235), 30th in NHL. Penalty killing: 85 percent (261 for 307), tied for 4th. Capitals - Power play: 13.8 percent (34 for 247), 27th. Penalty killing: 78.1 percent (228 for 292), 30th.

GOALTENDERS: Blackhawks - Craig Anderson (2-7-1, 0 SO, 3.88 GAA), Adam Munro (no appearances); Capitals - Olaf Kolzig (11-17-4, 0, 3.36); Brent Johnson (2-5-0, 0, 4.91).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Blackhawks 1-0-1.

LAST MEETING: March 12, 2004; Blackhawks 4-3. At Washington, Ruutu scored twice and Munro made 27 saves for his first NHL win.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blackhawks - 6-14-3 on the road; Capitals - 9-11-3 at home.

Associated Press
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