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Blackhawks go for more history, 12th straight win

by John Kreiser

Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville made history against the Nashville Predators last week. He and his players will try to make some more on Tuesday.

The Blackhawks will try for a team-record 12th consecutive victory when they visit the Predators (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN1, SNO, CSN-CH). Chicago matched the team mark set in 2012-13 by winning its 11th in a row Sunday, defeating the Montreal Canadiens, 5-2.

Last Tuesday, Quenneville earned his 782nd victory, tying Al Arbour for second place on the NHL’s all-time list, when the Blackhawks held off the Predators, 3-2 for their eighth straight win. Chicago has sandwiched two victories against the Canadiens around one against the Toronto Maple Leafs since then, moving Quenneville past Arbour and equaling the longest winning streak in franchise history.

Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville made history against the Nashville Predators last week. He and his players will try to make some more on Tuesday. (Photo: Bill Smith/NHLI)

The Blackhawks haven't lost since a 2-1 defeat against the Carolina Hurricanes in their first game after the Christmas break. Chicago was 13 points behind the Central Division-leading Dallas Stars and four points ahead of Nashville after that Dec. 27 loss; the Blackhawks begin this week in first place, three points ahead of Dallas, and 18 points ahead of fifth-place Nashville.

"Happy with the way we're playing," NHL scoring leader Patrick Kane (29 goals, 40 assists) said after the win against Montreal, in which he had a goal and an assist. "I think we're trending in the right direction, but not at all satisfied. I think the reason we've been winning games is we've been taking one at a time. We're not looking too far ahead or too far in the past to see which way we've been playing. It's been a good little run here for us."

A victory at Bridgestone Arena, where they lost 5-1 on Dec. 10, would tie the Blackhawks with the Florida Panthers for the longest winning streak in the NHL this season. The NHL record is 17 games, set by the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins.

Here are some other games that should garner plenty of attention:

Tuesday, Jan. 19: Boston Bruins at Montreal Canadiens (7:30 p.m. ET; NESN, RDS, SNE) -- These rivals meet for the first time since the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, and for the last time this regular season. Montreal has won three of the first four games, but the Canadiens are 3-6-1 in their past 10 and have dropped behind the Bruins in the Atlantic Division.

Tuesday, Jan. 19: Dallas Stars at Los Angeles Kings (10:30 p.m. ET; SN, SN1, FS-SW, FS-W) -- Not long ago, this looked like the first game of the season between the two division leaders in the Western Conference. But that was before the Stars hit the skids; they are 1-4-2 this month, have lost the first two games of their three-game California road trip and are second in the Central Division behind Chicago. The first-place Kings have a comfortable lead in the Pacific Division.

Thursday, Jan. 21: Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins (7 p.m. ET; CSN-PH, ROOT) -- Hard as it may be to believe, Pennsylvania's teams have yet to play each other this season; they won't do so again until March 19. The Flyers have won the past eight games in the series and are 6-0-1 at Consol Energy Center since their last regulation loss on April 7, 2012.

Thursday, Jan. 21: Chicago Blackhawks at Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, CSN-CH, SUN) -- It's the first trip to Amalie Arena for the Blackhawks since June 13, when they defeated Tampa Bay 2-1 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. Two nights later, the Blackhawks won Game 6 to wrap up their third Cup in six seasons. But Chicago hasn't fared as well at Tampa Bay in the regular season as it did last spring: Beginning with a 7-3 win against the Blackhawks in the franchise's first game on Oct. 7, 1992, the Lightning are 9-4-1 with three ties at home against the Blackhawks. That includes a 4-0 victory last Feb. 27.

Sunday, Jan. 24: Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals (12:30 p.m. ET; NBC, TVA Sports, SN360) -- The Penguins are one of three visiting teams to win at Verizon Center this season (3-1 on Oct. 28), but they enter the week on the outside looking in at the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Capitals, who started the week with a 17-point lead over the second-place New York Islanders in the Metropolitan Division, have won their past 12 home games.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Carl Hagelin, LW, Pittsburgh Penguins -- Hagelin looked lost for most of his time with the Anaheim Ducks, who acquired the speedy forward from the New York Rangers in June and signed him to a four-year contract. He had four goals, 12 points and was minus-10 in 44 games before being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday for forward David Perron. Hagelin didn't get a chance to practice with his new team before playing Sunday in a 5-0 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes and didn't get on the scoresheet, but his speed was a welcome addition on a club that needs more offense. "I'm just trying to play my game," Hagelin told the Penguins website. "I try to use my speed, create turnovers and drive through the middle to create ice for my teammates, and I think I did that." With center Nick Bonino out with a hand injury, Hagelin was thrown onto the penalty-killing unit and helped the Penguins go 4-for-4.

Louis Domingue, G, Arizona Coyotes -- Domingue, a 23-year-old goaltender who played a handful of NHL games last season, is one of the reasons the Coyotes enter the week second in the Pacific Division (22-17-5, 49 points). He got his chance at the No. 1 job after starter Mike Smith needed abdominal surgery in early December and Anders Lindback struggled. All Domingue has done is go 7-0-3 as a starter. "Hands down, no question, Louis Domingue," general manager Don Maloney said when asked which player has been the biggest surprise on his surprising team. "And he's done it at position and at a time when we really needed it."

Ryan Johansen, C, Nashville Predators -- Nashville hasn't had an elite top-line center since entering the NHL in 1998, but it may have filled that role by acquiring Johansen from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Johansen scored less than three minutes into his debut with the Predators and has seven points in his first five games with Nashville, including an assist on defenseman Roman Josi's power-play goal in a 3-0 win against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday in his first home game. Moving from the last-place Blue Jackets to the playoff-contending Predators appears to have re-invigorated Johansen. "I have a great opportunity here to come into a great hockey team who's in a pretty good position right now in the playoff hunt,” he said after the victory Saturday. "It's all about winning."

LINE CHANGES

David Perron, RW, Anaheim Ducks -- For the second year in a row, Perron was on the move in January. One year after the Penguins acquired him from the Edmonton Oilers, they sent him to the Ducks for Hagelin. Perron made a quick impression in his debut with the Ducks on Sunday; playing left wing on a line with center Ryan Kesler and right wing Jakob Silfverberg, Perron had his fifth goal of the season in a 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings. He said the Ducks' system, which focuses more on cycling the puck, is a good fit for him. The Ducks, who've struggled to score all season, need Perron to rediscover the touch that made him a 28-goal scorer with the Oilers in 2013-14.

"I think the biggest thing for me is the O-zone play," Perron said. "It's really working really hard and cycling the puck, not losing it and finding guys in the slot, stuff like that. I like that style, for sure."

Patric Hornqvist, RW, Pittsburgh Penguins -- The departure of Perron and arrival of Hagelin means the move that turned Hornqvist into a left wing didn't last long. Hornqvist returned to the right side on a line with center Sidney Crosby and left wing Chris Kunitz on Sunday and had two assists in Pittsburgh's 5-0 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes. Crosby scored twice, and each of the three finished plus-2. Hagelin played on the left side with Evgeni Malkin in the middle and Phil Kessel on the right.

Shawn Matthias, LW, Toronto Maple Leafs -- Matthias is getting an extended audition as the left wing on Toronto's first line because James van Riemsdyk will miss 6-8 weeks with a fractured foot. He scored his fourth goal of the season in a 3-2 loss at the Boston Bruins on Saturday and has points in back-to-back games. Matthias had a career-high 18 goals last season, and moving onto a line with Tyler Bozak and PA Parenteau could spark him offensively.

POINT SHOTS

Though Quenneville is now No. 2 in victories among all NHL coaches, he has no illusions of catching Scotty Bowman, the all-time record-holder with 1,244 wins. "Scotty's safe," he said with a big laugh after passing Arbour. … The Edmonton Oilers made a commitment to goaltender Cam Talbot on Sunday, signing the 28-year-old to a three-year contract that will prevent him from becoming a free agent this summer. Talbot, acquired from the New York Rangers last summer, is 8-13-3 with a 2.58 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in 26 games this season, but has a .941 save percentage in his past 10 starts. However, general manager Peter Chiarelli said Talbot's recent play didn't have an effect on his decision. "I judge it not just over this last stretch, where he's been very good, but from what I've seen before," Chiarelli said. "At the start of the year, he had a down stretch. What really impressed me about Cam was he was able to work through it." … Another team that made a commitment to a player was the Los Angeles Kings, who came to terms on an eight-year contract extension with center Anze Kopitar. The deal reportedly is worth $80 million, but don't try to tell coach Darryl Sutter that the Kings overpaid. "Guys get rewarded for winning Stanley Cups, and that the extension was not about numbers," Sutter said Saturday after the contract was announced. "He's worth every penny of it. It's got nothing to do with that. You win championships with players like that."

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