Following a pair of lopsided defeats, the Chicago Blackhawks showed an improved effort during the most recent game on their annual circus road trip. However, it wasn't enough to end their recent struggles.
Facing the threat of their first four-game losing streak in three seasons, the Blackhawks will try to take advantage of the struggling Anaheim Ducks on Friday night.
After opening its six-game trek with a win over rival Vancouver, Chicago (12-7-3) was outscored 14-4 in losses to Calgary and Edmonton this past weekend. The Blackhawks were much better defensively against San Jose on Wednesday but couldn't get anything past former goaltender Antti Niemi.
Chicago was shut out 1-0 despite outshooting the Sharks 23-11 in the first two periods and came up empty on the power play (0 for 4) for the first time in seven games.
"That's the standard for how we want to work," captain Jonathan Toews said. "I don't like the result but we had our chances and it just didn't go in. This won't hurt our confidence one bit. We played the way we're supposed to play. You hold that team to one goal, you've played a good game. It just didn't go our way."
If any team knows that feeling, it's Anaheim. The Ducks (6-11-4) have lost by two or fewer goals in each of their five consecutive losses, and they've allowed 13 goals in the three most recent defeats.
On Wednesday, Anaheim was outworked by Phoenix over the first two periods, getting outshot 21-8 while falling behind 3-1 en route to a 4-2 loss.
"We were not being aggressive enough, simple enough from my standpoint," coach Randy Carlyle said. "They've got to skate. We've got people that can skate. We've got people that can get involved physically."
Carlyle's team is 1-8-3 in its last 12, and only Columbus has fewer points in the Western Conference than Anaheim's 16.
The Ducks also lost their only game versus the Blackhawks this season, a 3-2 shootout at Chicago on Oct. 25. Patrick Sharp scored the only goal in the third period to send the game into overtime and Patrick Kane, who had two assists, tallied the shootout winner. The Blackhawks will seek more help from those players as they seek their fourth win in six matchups with Anaheim and try to avoid their first four-game skid since dropping five straight March 13-20, 2009.
The Ducks, meanwhile, will try to avoid a season-worst fourth consecutive home defeat with help from reigning Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry, who is on a four-game point streak. The winger has six goals and three assists in his last seven games against Chicago.
The Blackhawks' Marian Hossa has six goals and an assist in his past seven matchups with Anaheim, but only one goal and two assists in his last seven visits to the Honda Center.
Chicago is 4-19-2 in its last 25 games in Anaheim but two of those wins have come in the last five visits.