Blue Jackets-Blackhawks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 28, 2011
The Chicago Blackhawks suffered their first loss in regulation since opening night the last time they took the ice, but returning home could help them get back to their winning ways. A matchup with the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets also doesn't hurt their chances. Chicago looks to extend its best home start in three seasons Saturday night when it faces a Blue Jackets team that hasn't won a road game in more than seven months. Trying to build on a 5-0-2 surge since a 2-1 loss at Dallas on Oct. 7, Chicago fell 3-0 at Carolina on Friday to begin a stretch of five games in eight days. It was the first time the Blackhawks (5-2-2) were shut out this season. "We got dominated in all areas of the game. We weren't very good tonight," coach Joel Quenneville said. "They were a more determined team, and it was clear from the outset. ... I didn't like how we played." Chicago, though, has scored 17 times while posting a 3-0-2 record on home ice. It's the team's best start at the United Center since opening 6-0-4 in 2008-09. The Blue Jackets (1-8-1), who make their first of three visits to Chicago this season, have been outscored 21-11 in five road games in 2011-12 and are 0-8-2 away from home since a 5-4 overtime victory over Minnesota on March 19. Two days after ending the franchise's worst start with a 4-1 victory over Detroit, Columbus lost 4-2 at Buffalo on Thursday. The Blue Jackets had a season-high 43 shots - the third-most in a loss in team history. "We can't buy a break," former Blackhawk James Wisniewski said following his second game back since an eight-game suspension. "If we cut down the number of mistakes we are going to win more than we lose." Improving their special teams play could make that happen. The Blue Jackets are converting 9.8 percent (5 for 51) on the power play after going 0 for 6 against the Sabres. That is also an area of concern for the Blackhawks, who are 2 for 19 in their last six games. Chicago has killed 26 of 28 penalties this season after the Hurricanes failed in five chances Friday against Corey Crawford, who finished with 30 saves. "He was great," Quenneville said. "He kept us in a 1-0 game. We were right there." Crawford went 1-2-0 with a 3.28 goals-against average versus the Blue Jackets last season as Chicago won four of six. Columbus' Steve Mason was 2-2-0 with a 4.12 GAA in this matchup in 2010-11, winning both of his starts at the United Center. He is 4-0-1 with a 2.53 GAA in his last five starts in Chicago. Chicago's Patrick Sharp had his five-game point streak snapped Friday and now gets to face a Blue Jackets team he has dominated over the past few seasons. The veteran forward, tied with Patrick Kane with a team-high eight points, has 13 goals and eight assists during a 14-game point streak against Columbus.
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