Flames-Blackhawks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 26, 2013
The NHL-leading Chicago Blackhawks have to like their chances of avoiding their first three-game slide. The Blackhawks own a lengthy home win streak over the Calgary Flames, who must win Tuesday night's matchup to avoid setting the franchise's longest road skid. Chicago (24-4-3) opened a three-game homestand with Monday's 5-4 loss to Los Angeles. The Blackhawks had not played since closing a four-game trip with last Wednesday's 4-2 defeat to Anaheim. "I mean that's the best part of our league, and especially in this short season, you get to play a lot of games," said star winger Patrick Kane, who has 12 points in a six-game scoring streak. "We haven't really went through this before where we've kind of struggled a little bit. Two tough losses so hopefully we can get it back." Chicago faces a quirk turnaround against Calgary (12-14-4), which is 0-10-1 in its last 11 visits to the United Center including three defeats in the 2009 postseason. Losing on the road is nothing new for the Flames, who are 0-8-1 in their last nine away from Calgary to match the franchise's worst slide between Dec. 1, 1985-Jan. 12, 1986. "Now we're going back on the road and that's where we have to turn it around," coach Bob Hartley said. Monday's loss occurred in Chicago's first game at the United Center since a 6-5 defeat to Edmonton on March 10 that marked the club's first home regulation defeat. The Blackhawks went 0 for 4 on the power play Monday, and Kane said that the unit misses the injured Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa. Sharp remains out since March 6 while Hossa is expected to miss his third straight game Tuesday with an upper-body injury. Michael Frolik had two goals and one assist and Duncan Keith added a season-high three assists. The Flames ended a three-game slide Sunday with a 3-2 victory over St. Louis. Jarome Iginla scored to snap a third-period tie, Roman Cervenka turned in his first two-goal effort and Miikka Kiprusoff made 36 saves. Kiprusoff, whose 3.43 goals-against average is one of the NHL's worst marks, had a rare outstanding performance. He has posted a ghastly 4.54 GAA while starting all 11 games of this slide in Chicago. "We've talked about this many a time about how valuable he is to this hockey club," Hartley said. "It's not the first time that he's pulling performances like this." Curtis Glencross failed to record a point after amassing eight over his previous five games. Chicago's 24-game streak without a regulation loss to start the season was the talk of the NHL, but it nearly ended at eight in Calgary on Feb. 2 in the lone previous meeting this season. The Flames took the lead on Jay Bouwmeester's goal with 35 seconds left in regulation before Hossa scored a tying goal past Kiprusoff with 2.3 seconds remaining. Chicago went on for a 3-2 shootout win. Ray Emery made a career-high 45 saves for the Blackhawks in that victory in an effort that coach Joel Quenneville called "criminal." Emery, who is 11-0-0, could get the nod Tuesday after Corey Crawford started against the Kings.
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