A blown third-period lead and an overtime loss Wednesday took the shine off the Chicago Blackhawks’ strong start to its annual circus road trip.
They have a chance to post a winning record on that trek for the first time in 11 years, but the road doesn’t get any easier on Friday as they visit the Anaheim Ducks.
Chicago has dropped three straight at the Honda Center and has won just twice in its last 19 games in Anaheim, with 15 losses and two ties. The Blackhawks (10-4-6) have won three of the last 21 meetings overall.
Plus, they’re facing a Ducks team which has just three regulation losses in its last 17 games overall. Only three Western Conference teams have better records than the Ducks (12-8-3).
The Blackhawks won the first three of this six-game road trip, which the team takes every year while the circus occupies the United Center. They haven’t had an above-.500 record on the trip since going 3-1 with two ties in 1997.
Chicago’s first chance to end the drought came Wednesday, when it took a 2-1 lead early in the third period against San Jose on Jonathan Toews’ second goal of the game. The Sharks, however, tied the game 8:16 into the third against Cristobal Huet, who came in for an injured Nikolai Khabibulin, and Joe Thornton scored 45 seconds into overtime to hand the Blackhawks a 3-2 loss.
“It bites to lose. We wanted that game tonight to think we’ve done well on this road trip so far,” said Toews, who only has four goals after netting 24 during his 2007-08 rookie season.
Khabibulin suffered an undisclosed injury while making a series of saves late in the second period and remains day to day. He had taken over the starting role from Huet and has a 7-1-4 record with a 2.46 goals-against average.
Huet, signed to a four-year deal worth $22.5 million in July, dropped to 3-3-2 with a 3.08 GAA. He hasn’t faced the Ducks since the 2003-04 season but has won two of his last three starts against them.
Chicago’s Patrick Kane has four goals and three assists during his current five-game points streak. Last year’s Calder Trophy winner has a team-leading 26 points, but has never scored a goal in four career games against Anaheim.
Hiller has faced the Blackhawks twice and won both times, allowing four goals. He’s 4-1-1 with a 2.40 GAA this season and is coming off a strong performance, stopping 31 shots in a 2-1 win at Dallas on Saturday.
Giguere was just as good on Monday in the Ducks’ most recent game, making 29 saves in a 4-1 victory over Colorado.
Teemu Selanne scored twice in that game and leads the team with 12 goals. His power-play goal opened the scoring and Anaheim went on to take a 3-0 lead en route to its second win in its last six home games.
“We have to get that feeling back that this is our barn and getting points from here is going to be tough,” Selanne said. “A good start, especially in your own building, is huge. We have to do that more often.”
The last time Chicago visited Anaheim on Feb. 24, Selanne had a hat trick and tied a career high with five points in the Ducks’ 6-3 victory.
With an assist on Selanne’s first goal Monday, Ryan Getzlaf, the team leader with 27 points, extended his points streak to six. Chris Pronger had a goal and an assist for his first points in seven games.