The Chicago Blackhawks currently have the most home wins of any NHL team. They won’t get the chance to increase that total for the remainder of this month.
The Blackhawks begin a season-high eight-game road trip Saturday in Columbus, where they will try to sweep a home-and-home series from the last-place Blue Jackets.
Chicago has won both matchups against its Central Division rival, including Thursday night’s 3-0 triumph - the club’s 21st in 28 games at the United Center. That also helped the first-place Blackhawks avoid their first three-game skid of the season.
“It’s something we talked about before the game. … You want to step up when you don’t play well or lose a couple of games,” said Cristobal Huet(notes), who made 24 saves for his third shutout since Dec. 16, and fourth this season.
This will be the Blackhawks’ first appearance this season at Nationwide Arena, where they’ve gone 4-1-1 since February 2008, and continuing that success will help get this swing off to a positive start.
After this game, Chicago (32-11-4) heads to Detroit and Ottawa before playing Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. Then the Blackhawks go to San Jose before closing the grueling stretch against Carolina.
“You don’t want to go on an extended trip like that with three straight losses,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “I think it was important we got a little confidence and momentum when we leave here. It’s going to be a really challenging trip.”
The Blackhawks will not play again at home until Feb. 3 against St. Louis.
In November, the Blackhawks visited western Canada and northern California as part of their annual Circus Trip, winning all four contests by a combined 20-5 score. Chicago is 11-6-3 on the road in 2009-10.
On Thursday, Brian Campbell(notes) scored 61 seconds into the contest. Dustin Byfuglien(notes) and Duncan Keith(notes) also scored, but the key was Huet after he had given up four third-period goals in his previous start - a 6-5 shootout loss at Minnesota on Saturday.
“You always want to bounce back,” said Huet, 21-8-3 with a 2.10 goals-against average this season, and 1-0-1 with a 3.30 GAA in his career at Columbus.
Patrick Kane(notes) leads Chicago with 52 points, but has failed to record one his last two games. Playing away from home, though, seems to bring out the best in the US Olympian. Kane has five goals and seven assists in a nine-game point streak on the road.
Among the lowest-scoring teams in the league with 123 goals, Columbus (18-22-9) is coming off its first shutout loss of the season.
“They were coming really strong,” said Mathieu Garon(notes), who stopped 33 shots. “It seems from my part like every shot was a good scoring chance and they didn’t waste too many. All the shots they took, they could have scored.”
Garon appears to have taken over as the starter ahead of reigning Calder Trophy winner Steve Mason(notes). A journeyman now with his fifth team since 2000, Garon is 3-0-2 with a 1.68 GAA in seven home games.
Mason, meanwhile, has one win in 10 games overall since Dec. 12.
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