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Flames host floundering Blackhawks

by David Kalan /

BLACKHAWKS (32-10-12) at FLAMES (18-27-7)


Last 10: Chicago 3-3-4; Calgary 3-6-1

Season series: The Chicago Blackhawks and Calgary Flames have split two games this season, with each winning in the other team's home arena. This will be their final game of the regular season.

Big story: The NHL's defending champions have fallen on hard times of late; a 3-1 loss Sunday to the Winnipeg Jets was the Blackhawks' second straight loss and their third in a row against division foes. January, in general, has not been so kind to Chicago, which has won four of 12 games since turning the calendar to 2014.

Team Scope:

Blackhawks: Chicago's lead in the Central Division has shrunk to one point over the second-place St. Louis Blues, but the bigger concern for the Blackhawks may be that St. Louis, with three games in hand and three more regulation and overtime wins, has put itself in good position to control tiebreakers or even take over the division lead outright.

In Chicago's loss to Winnipeg on Sunday, the Blackhawks seemed to throw everything they could at Jets goalie Al Montoya, holding a 27-6 advantage in shots on goal through two periods, but struggled to light the lamp and were eventually undone by three Jets goals in the third period.

"I think the first 40 [minutes], we gave up nothing," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said afterward. "We get an unfortunate bounce right to their guy (Blake Wheeler), and it's a 1-1 game. We made an uncharacteristic giveaway on the winning goal (by Andrew Ladd). Tough loss for sure."

Chicago's visit to Calgary on Tuesday is the first stop of a seven-game road trip that will carry the Blackhawks through the Olympic break and beyond as "Disney on Ice" takes up residence at United Center. The Blackhawks will not play at home again until they host the Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldier Field in the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series on March 1.

Flames: If there is anything recent for Calgary to hang its hat on, it might be that they edged the Nashville Predators in a shootout this past Friday, giving them consecutive wins for the first time since Dec. 14.

Calgary has five wins in its past 20 games (5-13-2) and is currently sixth in the Pacific Division, 15 points behind the fifth-place Phoenix Coyotes. The Flames' minus-46 goal differential is the third worst in the Western Conference.

"No matter how hard you're working and how good the effort is, if you're not getting wins, it doesn't feel good," Flames defenseman Mark Giordano told the team's website Monday. "I think it would be a big positive for us if we could string a few wins together, and hopefully we can."

The Flames are in the middle of a five-game homestand, which will wrap up this weekend with visits from the San Jose Sharks and Minnesota Wild.

Who's hot: Blackhawks forward Marcus Kruger has a goal and three assists in the past five games. ... Giordano has three goals and three assists during his current six-game point streak.

Injury report: Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (torn rotator cuff) is out for the season. … Flames defenseman Ladislav Smid (undisclosed injury) is expected to play after missing the game Friday against Nashville. Forward Brian McGrattan (undisclosed injury), who also did not play Friday, is questionable, and forwards Curtis Glencross (ankle) and Mike Cammalleri (concussion) are on injured reserve.

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