Blackhawks-Hurricanes Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 27, 2011
The Chicago Blackhawks are off to a strong start, with new and old faces contributing with solid efforts. They haven't had the same success against the Carolina Hurricanes in recent seasons. Chicago looks for its first victory at Carolina in more than 13 years when the teams face off Friday night. The Blackhawks (5-1-2) have earned at least one point in each game since an opening-night loss in Dallas on Oct. 7, most recently beating Anaheim 3-2 in a shootout Tuesday. Patrick Kane had two assists - including a highlight-reel pass on Marian Hossa's goal - and added the shootout winner. Hossa has scored in five straight games, while Patrick Sharp's third-period goal extended his point streak to seven. Each line is contributing to the Blackhawks' current run - something which seemed to be missing during a disappointing 2010-11 season. "It seems like it's been lines one, two, three and four have each stepped up in certain games and taken over a little bit," Kane told the team's official website. "It's nice to have that balance on the lines, and it can be any line's game on a given night. We're seeing that from everyone." Even Daniel Carcillo, the bruising former Philadelphia forward who signed a one-year deal during the offseason, has shown offensive skills not many anticipated. Carcillo took two defenders out of the play on Kane's assist to Hossa by crashing the net on the rush. "He brings a lot of energy and he's got a lot of personality. He's good for us because teams are a little more worried about him than they are about us," Kane said referring to himself and Hossa. Kane scored in a 5-2 win over the Hurricanes in the most recent meeting March 4. The Blackhawks had lost eight of the previous 10 matchups with one tie. Chicago hasn't won at Carolina since a 4-1 victory Jan. 14, 1998, going 0-5-0 with a tie since. The Hurricanes won 4-2 in last season's meeting at the RBC Center on Jan. 30, and they'll look to extend their home dominance of Chicago while ending a three-game losing streak. Carolina (3-3-3) fell 3-2 to Ottawa in a shootout Tuesday, getting goals from Tuomo Ruutu and reigning Calder Trophy winner Jeff Skinner. Skinner and Ruutu likely will skate on a line with Jussi Jokinen on Friday after coach Paul Maurice shuffled his lines during Wednesday's practice. Captain Eric Staal will center Chad LaRose and Jiri Tlusty on the top line. "We're trying to find, as a team, the right guys to play with," Alexei Ponikarovsky, the newest member of the third line, told the team's official website. "During the year, it always happens. It's not just our team. We're just trying to find chemistry and create more offensively." Staal has two goals and four assists in his last four games against the Blackhawks, while Cam Ward is 2-0-1 with a 1.30 goals-against average lifetime versus Chicago. Corey Crawford is 1-1-0 with a 2.50 GAA against the Hurricanes, and he's been solid in net for the Blackhawks to start the season. He's 4-1-2 with a 2.08 GAA after making 29 saves Tuesday.
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