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Blackhawks-Panthers Preview @NHLdotcom
Blackhawks-Panthers Preview

GAME: Chicago Blackhawks (10-14-1) at Florida Panthers (8-14-4).

TIME: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

The slumping Chicago Blackhawks try to avoid their fifth straight road loss when they visit the Florida Panthers.

In the midst of a difficult stretch with seven of eight games away from home, the Blackhawks have dropped four of five overall, including a 3-2 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lighting on Friday.

Brent Seabrook and Mark Bell scored for Chicago, which has two one-goal losses, one by two goals and another in a shootout in its past four road contests.

Bell's goal gave him nine goals and five assists during an eight-game points streeak. Left wing Kyle Calder also has an eight-game points streak, collecting three goals and nine assists in that span.

Besides Bell and Calder, the Blackhawks' offense has largely gone cold. They've been held to two goals or fewer in four of the past five games.

Blackhawks No. 1 goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin didn't play Friday, but got his 2004 Stanley Cup ring before the morning skate from Tampa Bay general manager Jay Feaster.

Khabibulin is scheduled to start Saturday.

"It's probably the right thing to do," Khabibulin said. "Obviously it would be hard to keep the focus today, and we have a game tomorrow. I agree with their decision. It's not a big deal."

Backup Craig Anderson stopped 25 shots in Khabibulin's place, but allowed the deciding goal to Brad Richards in the shootout.

The Panthers, who have won just twice in 15 games, will have a new addition to their lineup after trading forward Kristian Huselius to Calgary on Friday for defenseman Steve Montador and minor league center Dustin Johner.

Montador had one goal and no assists in seven games for Calgary this season. He has four goals, five assists and 201 penalty minutes in 94 career NHL games.

"Steve is a physical, young player whose skills continue to develop," Florida general manager Mike Keenan said. "He played a significant role in Calgary's 2004 postseason run to the Stanley Cup Finals and adds further depth to our clubs' defense."

Nathan Horton scored in his first game back after being sidelined 10 games with a knee injury Thursday, leading the Panthers to a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals.

"It's no fun watching - I just want to contribute anyway I can," said Horton, the third overall pick in 2003. "I want to be out there with the guys and having fun. And we had fun tonight."

Stephen Weiss and Olli Jokinen also scored for Florida, which won for the second time in four games after losing 12 straight.

STANDINGS (through Dec. 2): Blackhawks - 21 points, 3rd place, 17 PB, Central Division. Panthers - 20 points, 4th place, 14 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blackhawks - Bell, 11 goals and 22 points; Calder 13 assists; Matthew Barnaby, 64 PIM. Panthers - Jokinen, 11 goals and 23 points; Jokinen and Mike Van Ryn, 12 assists; Jay Bouwmeester, Chris Gratton and Branislav Mezei, 37 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 2): Blackhawks - Power play: 14.4 percent (22 for 152), 25th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.2 percent (167 for 203), 17th (tied). Panthers - Power play: 13.7 percent (20 for 145), 28th. Penalty killing: 80.1 percent (133 for 166), 25th.

GOALTENDERS: Blackhawks - Khabibulin (8-13-0, 0 SO, 3.26 GAA); Anderson (2-1-1, 3.94). Panthers - Roberto Luongo (8-12-4, 2, 3.10); Jamie McLennan (0-2-0, 2.91).

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

LAST MEETING: Feb. 29, 2004. Tied, 2-2. Valeri Bure's power-play goal tied the game with 7:16 left in the third period. Niklas Hagman also scored for the Panthers while Tuomo Ruutu scored and assisted on Calder's goal for the Blackhawks.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blackhawks - 5-10-1 on the road; Panthers - 6-5-1 at home.

Associated Press
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