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Blackhawks hope to end Ducks' streak

by John Kreiser

DUCKS (36-8-5) at BLACKHAWKS (30-8-11)


Last 10: Anaheim 9-1-0; Chicago 4-1-5

Season series: The Anaheim Ducks have won five in a row against the Chicago Blackhawks, including a 3-2 shootout victory at United Center on Dec. 6 in the only game between the teams so far this season. Chicago visits Anaheim on Feb. 5

Big story: Can anyone ground the high-flying Ducks? Anaheim brings an eight-game winning streak to Chicago after routing the Vancouver Canucks 9-1 at home Wednesday. The Blackhawks have been getting points but not a lot of victories; they have one regulation loss in seven games in 2014 but have lost three games in overtime and another in a shootout to fall six points behind the Ducks in the race for the Presidents' Trophy.

Team Scope:

Ducks: The eight-game winning streak that Anaheim brings to Chicago is longer than any other team has managed this season, but it's not the longest for the Ducks, who won 10 in a row before a 3-1 road loss to the San Jose Sharks on Dec. 29. Anaheim has won all eight games since then to join the 1967-68 Montreal Canadiens as the only teams in NHL history to win 18 of 19 games.

One secret to the Ducks' success has been an abundance of secondary scoring. Thirteen players hit the scoresheet in the rout of the Canucks, and opponents are finding that shutting down Anaheim's top line doesn't guarantee a victory.

"We have a lot of depth guys, and guys who come in the lineup," said center Andrew Cogliano, whose goal Wednesday was his 16th of the season. "It seems like we have 14 guys who switch every night who can provide offense. It's pretty impressive we're getting a lot of depth scoring.

Blackhawks: Chicago may be the defending Stanley Cup champion, but no one at the Blackhawks' practice Thursday was downplaying the importance of the game against a team they've struggled to beat and are looking up at in the standings.

"Anaheim is the team to beat right now," defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "They have been dominating so far this season. They got a lot of offensive skill. We got to play a real [good] defensive game if we're going to beat them."

Coach Joel Quenneville feels the Ducks' depth makes them especially hard to beat.

"It's a great test for us, a good measuring stick," he said. "They're on a great run here. Commend them on how they're playing. But game in, game out, they're a hard team to play against. They got a lot of guys contributing, and everyone is a part of it."

Who's hot: Ducks forward Corey Perry had two goals and two assists against Vancouver, giving him nine points (four goals) in his past five games. Goaltender Jonas Hiller has won his past 14 decisions. … Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa has two goals and two assists in his past three games. Andrew Shaw has scored a goal in back-to-back games.

Injury report: Hiller (illness) didn't play Wednesday. The Ducks are also without backup goaltender Viktor Fasth (lower body) and defensemen Luca Sbisa (hand) and Sheldon Souray (wrist). Defenseman Bryan Allen (foot) is ready to return. … Blackhawks backup goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin (shoulder surgery) is out for the season, but everyone else is healthy.

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