|CHI||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||4|
|MIN||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||1|
One of the NHL's oldest teams sits on the brink of franchise history.
The Chicago Blackhawks hope to win a ninth consecutive game for the first time in their 82 years of existence when they visit the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.
Chicago (19-6-7) has prevailed only once in its last 11 trips to Minnesota, but already overcame some bad history to match the franchise-record winning streak.
The Blackhawks, who previously won eight straight from Jan. 4-21, 1981, equaled that mark Friday by beating Philadelphia 5-1 for just their second victory over the Flyers in 11 years. Chicago scored twice in the first 2:35 of the game to take control and added three goals in the first 5:07 of the third period.
During the streak, the Blackhawks have scored 4.5 goals per game and given up 1.4. They've gone 10-for-39 on the power play while killing off 27 of 28 penalties.
"It's tough to find a weakness in our team right now," said Patrick Sharp, who scored for the second straight game Friday and leads Chicago with 19 goals. "The best thing about these eight games is that our team's stayed pretty mellow the whole time. We're enjoying the ride, but we're not getting too far ahead of ourselves."
The Blackhawks haven't lost since a 5-4 shootout defeat in Detroit on Nov. 29. They've won four straight away from home since that game, but are 1-7-3 in their last 11 games at the Xcel Energy Center. That record includes a 3-2 loss in Minnesota on Oct. 27 in the only meeting between the teams this season.
Chicago goalies Nikolai Khabibulin and Cristobal Huet have combined to allow seven goals in the last five games, but neither of them have ever won in Minnesota. Khabibulin has lost all six of his starts there, even though he's allowed just four goals in the last three, and Huet has given up seven goals in losing two games there.
The Wild are 10-6-2 at home, with all of the losses coming by one goal.
Chicago's Andrew Ladd scored Friday to extend his point streak to six games. He has four goals and 11 assists during his team's 9-0-1 stretch.
Patrick Kane, the team leader with 41 points, has a five-game streak after two assists in Friday's game.
While the Blackhawks have one of the league's best offenses at 3.66 goals per game, they will face one of the NHL's top defenses in the Wild, who have yielded 2.30 goals per contest.
Following an 0-5-1 stretch, Minnesota (17-14-2) has won two of its last three games as goalie Niklas Backstrom has stopped 70 of 76 shots. He's 2-1-0 lifetime against the Blackhawks with a 1.68 GAA after beating them in October.
Backstrom has helped the Wild allow only one power-play goal in their last 21 chances.
After scoring two goals or fewer in each game during its six-game skid, Minnesota's offense has produced nine goals in the past three games. Mikko Koivu had two assists in Tuesday's 3-2 win over Carolina to extend his point streak to four.
"We kind of realized that we had to pick it up," said Koivu, who leads the team with 11 goals and 24 assists. "You're going to face times of struggle during a long season, but hopefully that's in the past."
Marian Gaborik added a goal and an assist in Tuesday's game for his second two-point performance in four games after missing 27 with a lower body injury.
|Feb 22 '09||MIN 2 at CHI 1||P. Olvecky|
|Jan 19 '09||MIN 4 at CHI 1||M. Zidlicky|
|Dec 28 '08||CHI 4 at MIN 1||D. Byfuglien|
|Oct 27 '08||CHI 2 at MIN 3||B. Burns|