A turn of the calendar appears to have helped the Chicago Blackhawks rebound from a recent slump.
The Blackhawks seek their season high-tying fourth straight win Sunday night as they host the Central Division rival Columbus Blue Jackets.
Chicago (14-6-7) won six of its first nine November contests before stumbling in the final three games (0-2-1), but has rebounded with a 4-0-1 record in December.
Dustin Byfuglien scored twice, including the go-ahead goal in the third period, as the Blackhawks won 4-3 at Colorado on Friday for their third straight victory.
"Huge goal and huge win," said coach Joel Quenneville, whose team is 13-4-6 since firing Denis Savard on Oct. 16. "I thought the way we played over the last two periods was kinda the way we have to play and we played over the last three or four games. It was a necessary win and really put us in a good spot."
Chicago has scored 21 times during the 4-0-1 surge, and that offense has been balanced by solid goaltending from both Cristobal Huet and Nikolai Khabibulin, who have collectively allowed 2.00 goals per contest in that span.
Khabibulin made 18 saves Friday in his return following a six-game absence with a lower-body injury. A winner of four straight decisions overall, he is 6-8-2 with a tie and a 3.39 goals-against average in 17 matchups against Columbus (13-13-3).
Huet, who is 5-1-1 with a 1.99 GAA in seven home starts, improved to 2-1-0 in three lifetime games against the Blue Jackets with a 4-3 shootout victory in Columbus on Nov. 1 in the clubs' first matchup this season.
Chicago's Patrick Kane has four goals and five assists in nine career games versus the Blue Jackets. Last season's Calder Trophy winner as the league's top rookie, Kane has shown no signs of a sophomore slump, leading the Blackhawks with 20 assists and 33 points.
As the Blackhawks try to match their four-game winning streak from Oct. 31-Nov. 9, they'll also be seeking a fourth straight victory at the United Center, where they are 9-1-4 overall. The Blue Jackets have alternated wins and losses in their last eight visits to Chicago.
Columbus enters having lost four in a row on the road to fall to 4-8-2 as visitors. But the Blue Jackets won their second straight overall Saturday, 3-1 over the New York Islanders.
Fredrik Modin, Jason Chimera and Andrew Murray each scored to back a 24-save effort from rookie Steve Mason for Columbus, which won a season-best three in a row from Nov. 5-8.
"It's definitely nice, but we have to keep going," Mason, 8-4-1 with a 1.97 GAA in 13 starts, told the Blue Jackets' official Web site. "(Sunday's) another big game for us, and hopefully, we can come away with two points."
Columbus also hopes Rick Nash can regain his scoring touch. He leads the Blue Jackets with 13 goals and 25 points, but has been limited to an assist over his last four contests. However, he has 17 goals and 36 points in 33 career games versus the Blackhawks.
Chicago's Martin Havlat has six goals and 13 assists in 15 contests against Columbus, while Patrick Sharp - the team leader with 16 goals - has nine goals and seven assists in 24 games.