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|VAN||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||7|
Winning is starting to become a habit for the Chicago Blackhawks. It's a habit the Vancouver Canucks are struggling to pick up.
The Blackhawks seek their fourth straight victory on Saturday night when they visit a Canucks team seeking consecutive wins for the first time in almost two months.
Chicago (29-13-8) lost three of four games entering the All-Star break, but has come out of the break with wins in four of the first five stops on its eight-game road trip - the second-longest in franchise history and the lengthiest for any team in the league this season.
On Thursday night, Andrew Ladd had two goals and an assist to lead the Blackhawks past Calgary 5-2. It was their third straight win overall, and helped them sweep the season series against the Flames for the first time since 1993-94.
"We physically dominated them," said center Dave Bolland, who has three goals and four assists during a season-high five-game point streak.
Chicago, which moved within seven points of first-place Detroit in the Central Division (73), is still less than halfway to its win streak from Dec. 7-28 - a franchise-record nine-game run that included a 3-1 victory in Vancouver (23-20-8) on Dec. 20.
Losing streaks have been the norm lately for the Canucks, who were mired in an eight-game slide (0-5-3) and had lost a team-record nine in a row at home entering Tuesday night's contest against Carolina.
The teams were tied 3-all entering the final minutes before Alex Burrows scored on a short-handed breakaway with 1:22 left to give the Canucks a 4-3 victory - their first since defeating Edmonton on Jan. 7 and their first at GM Place since Dec. 28 versus Ottawa.
"A lot of people probably thought it was going to be another one of those games we wouldn't be able to close," said Burrows, whose 12th goal matched the career high he set last season. "But we found a way to get it done, that's the bottom line, and now it's a lot of pressure off everybody's shoulders."
To win two in a row for the first time since Dec. 14 and 17, though, the Canucks will have to end their three-game skid against the Blackhawks, who have outscored them 11-4 in those matchups.
Chicago has reason to be confident. It is 12-3-0 versus teams from the Northwest Division, and has won all 11 of its matchups this season against Canadian teams, outscoring them 48-17.
The Blackhawks, though, will likely need to overcome Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo, who made 24 saves in Tuesday's win. Luongo is 3-1-0 with a 0.99 GAA and a .955 save percentage at home against the Blackhawks since joining the Canucks in 2006-07.
Chicago has rotated goalies for the last 20 contests, making Saturday Cristobal Huet's turn. He is 9-4-0 with a 1.74 GAA in his last 13 games overall, and has been in net for both wins over the Canucks this season, yielding three goals on 61 shots.
Huet will look to contain Vancouver's newly-formed line of Mats Sundin, Pavol Demitra and Ryan Kesler, which combined for two goals and five assists in its debut Tuesday.