Lightning-Blackhawks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 04, 2013
After needing to rally to win their opener, the Chicago Blackhawks return to the ice looking to improve in some key areas. The Blackhawks want better results from their special teams Saturday night against the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning, who struggled on the power play in their first game. Despite falling behind by a goal early in the third period Tuesday against Washington, Chicago scored three unanswered to win 6-4 and become the first reigning champion in four seasons to open the next with a victory. "The guys have always been in a good place since Day 1 of the season," coach Joel Quenneville said. "You've got to commend them on how they prepared themselves." With three days between games, Quenneville's group will have had time to fine-tune some things. Corey Crawford, who yielded four or more goals only three times in 2012-13, helped the Blackhawks kill off Washington's late 5-on-3 advantage. However, the Capitals went 3 for 6 on the power play. Last season, Chicago ranked third in penalty killing at 87.2 percent and didn't allow a third power-play goal until its 11th game. "We try to have a good system and work from that," forward Marcus Kruger told the Blackhawks' official website. "That's an ongoing process, but I think we'll be fine." Six players scored for Chicago, but only defenseman Brent Seabrook was able to convert on one of the team's four power-play chances. The Blackhawks want to improve in that area after ranking 19th at 16.7 percent in 2013. "I thought we were moving (the puck) around a little bit more (on the power play)," Quenneville said. "We're thinking shot more. We had some nice retrievals, which we didn't have many last year." Tampa Bay, which converted only 12.5 percent of its road power-play chances last season, went 0 for 5 with the man advantage and allowed two short-handed goals in a 3-1 loss at Boston on Thursday. "Ultimately you have to win the special teams war regardless if it's the power play or penalty kill," coach John Cooper told the Lightning's official website. Valtteri Filppula scored in his Lightning debut, but Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos failed to get on the scoresheet after finishing last season 1-2 in the NHL in points with 60 and 57. "We can't be a well-oiled machine every night," said Stamkos, who had 29 goals and 28 assists during the lockout-shortened 48-game season. Stamkos has seven goals in three home games against the Blackhawks, but no points in two at Chicago. St. Louis has been held to one assist in his last three at the United Center. Anders Lindback made 22 saves, but it's uncertain if he'll be in net as Cooper plans to split duties between him and Ben Bishop. Lindback is 1-2-0 with a 4.01 goals-against average against the Blackhawks. Bishop allowed four goals on 18 shots in his only appearance versus Chicago in a 5-3 loss with St. Louis on Feb. 21, 2011. Chicago's Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have combined for eight goals and 13 assists in six career games against the Lightning. Tampa Bay has won three straight over Chicago, most recently 5-4 in overtime at home Nov. 4, 2011.
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