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Leafs pay rare visit to Chicago as part of six-game Friday schedule

NHL.com @NHL
A visit from the Toronto Maple Leafs used to be nothing out of the ordinary in Chicago -- the teams once met as many as 14 times a season. But trips to Chicago have become a rare thing for the Leafs: They come to the United Center on Friday night (8:30 p.m. ET) for the first time since 2006 and just the second time since 2003.

The Leafs (3-8-5) are coming off one of their worst performances of the season, a 5-2 home loss to Minnesota on Tuesday. The Central Division-leading Blackhawks (10-5-2) won their last game, beating Colorado 3-2 in a shootout on Wednesday.

The Leafs-Hawks game is one of six on the NHL schedule for Friday night.

The Carolina Hurricanes will be trying to break a 13-game losing streak when they host the New York Islanders at the RBC Center (7 p.m. ET). One of the 13 was a 4-3 shootout loss on Long Island last month -- one of only two games during the streak in which the 'Canes have gotten a point. They lost 5-2 at home to Los Angeles on Wednesday, the same night the Isles lost 5-4 at Washington in an 11-round shootout.

Washington, still minus Alex Ovechkin, hosts the Minnesota Wild (7 p.m.). Minnesota blew a 3-1 lead and lost 4-3 to Tampa Bay in a shootout on Thursday, while the Caps are coming off the marathon shootout win over the Isles.

Anaheim visits Columbus (7 p.m. ET) in a battle of teams trying to regroup. The Ducks were beaten 3-1 at New Jersey on Wednesday, but the Blue Jackets are coming off the worst home loss in franchise history -- a 9-1 rout by the Detroit Red Wings.

Ilya Kovalchuk's return from a broken right foot was a success -- he had a goal and a pair of assists in Atlanta's 5-3 win at New York on Thursday night -- and the Thrashers are hoping his scoring touch carries over to their home game against the Los Angeles Kings (7:30 p.m. ET). The Kings continue a trip through the Southeast that began with the win at Carolina.

Also at 7:30, the Calgary Flames continue a swing through the East with a visit to Buffalo in a meeting between two teams off to fast starts. The Flames have been off since a 1-0 victory at Montreal on Tuesday, while Buffalo outlasted the Flames' Alberta neighbors, the Edmonton Oilers, 3-1 on Wednesday night.

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