The red-hot Chicago Blackhawks haven’t been this successful at this stage of a season in 38 years, and their play at home is a big reason.
The Blackhawks look for their 16th win in 18 games at the United Center on Sunday night when they host the last-place Anaheim Ducks, one of the worst road teams in the NHL.
Chicago (28-10-3) leads the Central Division with 59 points for its highest total after 41 games since totaling 61 in 1971-72, matching the previous season’s club record at that stage.
The Blackhawks also are atop a division at the midway point for the first time since holding first place in the Norris Division on Jan. 2, 1993.
A key reason why they’re a serious contender in the Western Conference has been dominance at the United Center. The Blackhawks own the best home record in the NHL at 18-4-1, winning 15 of their last 17 by a 56-31 margin.
“It always feels great when you score,” said Kopecky, a defensive specialist who recorded the first multigoal game of his five-season NHL career covering 222 games. “It helps the team especially when you win. It was a great feeling.”
Patrick Kane(notes), who was named to Team USA on Friday, has been hot of late, accumulating seven goals and five assists during a seven-game point streak. He leads Chicago with 17 goals and 46 points, and has team highs of 10 goals and 17 assists at home.
The Blackhawks dropped their first meeting of the season with Anaheim, 3-0 on the road on Nov. 27. However, they’ve won the last three matchups at home, where the teams will meet again next Sunday.
The Ducks (16-18-7) occupy the bottom of the Pacific Division, thanks in large part to a 5-10-5 road record. They lost their fourth straight away from home, 3-1 to Nashville on Saturday.
Bobby Ryan(notes), who will join Kane on Team USA, leads the Ducks with 19 goals and is third with 34 points. The left wing was held without a point against the Predators after posting six goals and eight assists in the previous 11 contests.
He has two goals and one assist in the last three meetings with Chicago.
Hiller has dropped his last two games against the Blackhawks, posting a 3.07 goals-against average. Giguere is 10-2-1 with a 2.16 GAA in 13 meetings after notching the shutout earlier this season.
Giguere, though, is 0-5-3 with a 3.28 GAA on the road in 2009-10.