After extending their historic streak with a tough road win, the Chicago Blackhawks will try not to look past the league’s worst team.
That hasn’t been a problem recently for the Blackhawks, who seek their 10th straight victory over the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night.
The Blackhawks (17-0-3) remained undefeated in regulation and stretched their NHL record season-opening points streak to 20 with a 3-0 win at St. Louis on Thursday. The Blackhawks have earned at least one point in 26 consecutive games overall, the third-longest point streak in league history.
“It’s kind of cool to be mentioned in history,” goalie Ray Emery said. “But we’ve just got to continue to play well.”
They appear poised to keep their run going against the struggling Blue Jackets (5-12-3) with nine consecutive wins in the series by a 35-18 margin. Those victories, however, haven’t come as easy lately with both wins this season by one goal.
Chicago, though, is a league-best 10-0-3 in one-goal games, thanks in large part to stellar goaltending from Emery and Corey Crawford
Emery figures to start this game after Crawford had to be removed following the first period on Thursday with an upper-body injury. Crawford, the league leader with a 1.46 goals-against average, was making his second start since returning from an upper-body injury on Sunday.
Coach Joel Quenneville said Crawford is day to day, and it wasn’t the same injury that previously sidelined the goalie.
Emery finished with 15 saves to preserve the shutout against the Blues. He’s also won each of his eight starts, and has a 1.76 GAA in five home games.
As good as they’ve been playing defensively, the Blackhawks shouldn’t have much trouble containing a Columbus team that has scored only 15 goals and converted 3 of 37 power-play chances in 10 road games.
The Blue Jackets rallied from four one-goal deficits and salvaged a point with a 5-4 overtime loss to Dallas on Tuesday. It was the third straight loss and sixth in seven games for Columbus, which has a league-low 13 points.
“The problem is we’re just playing from behind too much,” said R.J. Umberger who scored against the Stars. “It’s hard to play catch-up.”
Columbus may be getting some help with Artem Anisimov expected to return after missing three games because of a head injury. Anisimov, who has four goals and two assists in 15 games, provided one of the goals in a 3-2 home loss to Chicago on Jan. 26. He’s scored in each of his last two against the Blackhawks.
Patrick Kane finished with two assists in that win and ranks among the league leaders with 10 goals and 14 assists on the season. He also has 12 and 22, respectively, in 32 career games against the Blue Jackets.
Jonathan Toews will try to build off his first two-goal effort of the season against the Blues. He has 13 goals and 20 assists in 32 games in this series, while Marian Hossa has three goals and five assists in his last seven against Columbus.
Patrick Sharp also enjoys this matchup, scoring 14 goals in 21 career meetings at home.
Steve Mason is 0-6-0 with a 4.14 GAA in his last six starts in this series despite limiting the Blackhawks to four goals on 51 shots in two this season.
Sergei Bobrovsky had allowed two goals or fewer in four of five starts before giving up five to Dallas. He won his only career start against Chicago on Jan. 23, 2011, with Philadelphia.