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Blackhawks-Flames Preview @NHL

The Chicago Blackhawks may have raised some eyebrows when they fired coach Denis Savard four games into the season and replaced him with Joel Quenneville.

The move, though, appears to be paying off handsomely.

The surging Blackhawks look to extend their longest winning streak in nearly seven years on Friday night when they meet the Calgary Flames.

Chicago (16-6-7) opened a three-game swing through western Canada with a 9-2 rout of Edmonton on Tuesday for its fifth straight victory. Troy Brouwer had two goals and an assist and reigning Calder Trophy winner Patrick Kane added a goal and two assists for the Blackhawks, who are 6-0-1 this month after closing November with a three-game skid.

"We really wanted to come out and have a good first game on the road because we have three here before Christmas," Brouwer said after his first career multigoal game. "Just get the first one out here and get on a roll for the next two."

Chicago, which ends its road trip on Saturday in Vancouver, is riding its longest win streak since winning six in a row from Dec. 26, 2001-Jan. 6, 2002. That run came during the last season in which the team made the playoffs.

Quenneville took over for Savard after the Blackhawks got off to a 1-2-1 start. Since then, Chicago has gone 15-4-6, and is posing a legitimate challenge to Stanley Cup champion Detroit in the Central Division.

"It's been a fun little run we're on right now," said Quenneville, whose team has scored 33 goals over the last seven games.

Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 31 shots against Edmonton, and could make his second straight start in this game. He's won his last three starts in Calgary, improving to 13-3-0 with a 2.05 goals-against average in his career there.

Andrew Ladd, who had two assists against the Oilers, is the Blackhawks' leading scorer this month with three goals and eight assists. Ladd has 19 points this season, and has never had more than 30 since breaking in as a rookie in 2005 with Carolina.

The Blackhawks have won three straight in Calgary, and defeated the Flames 6-1 on Nov. 9 at Chicago in the only meeting this season. Kane and Martin Havlat each had a goal and two assists in that game.

With this contest, the Flames (18-11-3) begin a season-high five-game homestand that will carry them through New Year's Eve.

Calgary returns to Pengrowth Saddledome after sweeping a two-game road trip. The Flames beat St. Louis 6-3 on Tuesday before posting a 3-2 overtime victory against Minnesota on Wednesday.

Todd Bertuzzi's tally 3:48 into the extra period off a feed from Daymond Langkow snapped a 20-game goal-scoring drought.

"It was a good veteran move by Daymond Langkow," said Bertuzzi, who had not scored since Nov. 2. "He made a smart play, dove for it, got it over, and that's obviously a nice two points to go home with."

Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 25 shots to improve to 7-2-1 with a 2.17 GAA in his last 10 starts. However, he tied a season high by allowing six goals versus Chicago last month.

Jarome Iginla failed to record a point against the Wild after tying a career high with four in the win over the Blues. The Flames captain leads the team with 16 goals and 21 assists, but has one point in his last four games against the Blackhawks.

EA SPORTS NHL09 Game Predictions
Chicago 6
Three Stars
G: 4 | A: 2

G: 1 | A: 3

S: 20 | SV: 20


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