Blackhawks home to play Central rival Blue Jackets
Tuesday, 12.01.2009 / 6:00 PMBrian Hunter
- NHL.com Staff Writer
BLUE JACKETS (13-9-4) at BLACKHAWKS (16-6-3)
| Apr 8, 2009
||CBJ, 4 - 3
| Apr 5, 2009
||CHI, 1 - 0
| Mar 18, 2009
||CBJ, 4 - 3
| Mar 13, 2009
||CBJ, 5 - 3
| Dec 14, 2008
||CHI, 3 - 1
| Nov 1, 2008
||CHI, 4 - 3
Columbus 4-4-2; Chicago 8-1-1
First of six meetings this season between Central Division rivals. The teams split last season's series, with four of the games being decided in either overtime or a shootout. Each team won twice on its opponent's home ice.
It's going to be a banner night at the United Center. For one, the Blackhawks are finally back in town, after the circus forced them on the road for an annual lengthy trip. Chicago won the first four games, stretching its winning streak to eight before back-to-back losses in Anaheim and Los Angeles. The team will also be debuting a new third jersey on Tuesday.
There weren't many teams in the League that needed a win more than Columbus, which returned home Monday from a five-game road trip of its own. Unlike the Blackhawks, the Blue Jackets seemed to encounter nothing but disaster. They went 0-3-2 despite leading at some point in all five games. But R.J. Umberger's hat trick against St. Louis helped snap that skid with a 5-2 victory.
"There wasn't a third-period meltdown, there wasn't a shootout," defenseman Mike Commodore said of the variety of lost leads in the skid. "It was nice to not give up any goals in the third period for the first time in a long time. That's a big win for us, a step in the right direction."
There's no reason for discouragement in the Chicago dressing room even though the Hawks enter Tuesday's game trying to snap a two-game losing streak. They ran into a red-hot goalie in Jean-Sebastien Giguere in Anaheim and did manage to salvage a point in a 2-1 shootout loss to Los Angeles on Saturday. Jonathan Toews
rallied them in the third period with a power-play goal that forced overtime.
"I thought the third period was our best of the game and it put ourselves in a pretty good spot," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We've been on the road for a while and at the end of trips, traditionally teams look like they're looking for the finish line, but I like how we competed and we were determined about trying to get something out of it."
In addition to Umberger, who added an assist against the Blues for a four-point night, the Blue Jackets have been paced by Antoine Vermette, with three goals and five points over his last five games.
Toews has four goals and 10 points in 10 games since returning from a concussion. Hawks goalie Cristobal Huet
is 7-1-1 in his last nine starts and has given up two goals or less in seven of them.
Klesla left Monday's game after falling into the boards awkwardly when he was hit by St. Louis defenseman Barret Jackman, and did not return. Columbus has been without forwards Fredrik Modin (knee), Andrew Murray (shoulder) and Derek Dorsett (concussion), all of whom are on injured reserve.
Chicago forwards Adam Burish (knee) and Dave Bolland
(back) are both on the I.R.
Umberger's hat trick was the second of his career. The ex-Flyer also scored three goals for Philadelphia against Pittsburgh on Dec. 11, 2007. He finished with a career-high 50 points that season.
Chicago took control of the Central with its lengthy win streak, but Columbus sits just five points back, in a third-place tie with Detroit. The Blue Jackets could jump into sole possession of second, ahead of the Wings and the idle Nashville Predators, with a win Tuesday.