Rangers-Blackhawks Preview

TOM CASTRO (STATS Senior Editor)
The Associated Press

The Chicago Blackhawks' league-best offensive attack has been stymied somewhat over the past four games. That's proved to be no obstacle to the club continuing to pile up points.

The Blackhawks look to extend their 10-game overall point streak and nine-game run of earning at least a point at home when they face the inconsistent New York Rangers on Wednesday night.

Chicago (29-7-9) easily leads the NHL with 167 goals, but it's scored two or fewer in three of the last four games. The Blackhawks still managed to go 1-0-2 in those three to leave them at 6-0-4 in the past 10.

They dropped a tough matchup with fellow Western Conference power San Jose on Sunday, 3-2 in a shootout at home. Coach Joel Quenneville wasn't happy even though his team earned a point, as it couldn't hold a 2-1 lead in the third period and didn't score in the tiebreaker.

Chicago was outshot 42-35 overall and 33-24 after the first 20 minutes in suffering its fifth shootout home loss.

''We've lost a few (shootouts) in a row here and I think it could be a little bit uncomfortable, or a lack of confidence, but we've got to work our way through it,'' Quenneville said. ''We've left a lot of points on the board.

''We could have put ourself in a better spot than we're at. That's been a sour spot recently.''

Corey Crawford made 40 saves and Niklas Hjalmarsson and Michal Rozsival scored for the Blackhawks, but Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp failed to convert in the tiebreaker.

Chicago still did enough to avoid its first regulation loss since Dec. 14, its only one in the past 15 games. The Blackhawks are 15-2-6 at home on the season and 11-1-4 in their last 16 at the United Center.

''Any win in here is special,'' Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. ''It's a hard place to play. They play fast. They play hard, and any win in this building is huge.''

It's yielded little success for New York lately, as the Rangers (21-20-3) have gone 1-2-2 with a tie in their last six visits. They fell 4-3 on March 9, 2012 at Chicago in the teams' most recent meeting.

The club's inconsistency continued Monday in a 4-3 shootout loss at home to Columbus. New York is 6-3-2 in its last 11, not winning more than two in a row or losing more than two straight in that span.

The Rangers got two power-play goals from former Blue Jacket Rick Nash and battled back from a 3-1 deficit after two periods, but they didn't score in the tiebreaker.

''It would've been nice to get that other point,'' Nash said. ''We've got to come out a lot better, and we can't keep making mistakes that end up in the back of our net.''

The Rangers went 2 for 6 on the power play and have gone 3 for 9 in the past two games.

Newly acquired Rangers enforcer and former Blackhawk Daniel Carcillo could make his debut with New York on Wednesday. Obtained from Los Angeles on Saturday for a seventh-round draft pick, Carcillo played the 2011-12 and '12-'13 seasons with Chicago, recording four goals, 10 assists, 93 penalty minutes and a plus-11 rating.

Toews has three goals and 16 assists in his last 14 contests, while Sharp has nine goals and three assists in his past seven. Both were named to Hockey Canada's Olympic team on Tuesday.

Leading scorer Patrick Kane has recorded one total assist in his previous four.

The Blackhawks have won two straight and three of four in the series overall.

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