Blue Jackets-Blackhawks Preview

After extending their historic streak with a tough road win, the
Chicago Blackhawks will try not to look past the league’s worst
team.

That hasn’t been a problem recently for the Blackhawks, who seek
their 10th straight victory over the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets
on Friday night.

The Blackhawks (17-0-3) remained undefeated in regulation and
stretched their NHL record season-opening points streak to 20 with
a 3-0 win at St. Louis on Thursday. The Blackhawks have earned at
least one point in 26 consecutive games overall, the third-longest
point streak in league history.

“It’s kind of cool to be mentioned in history,” goalie Ray
Emery said. “But we’ve just got to continue to play well.”

They appear poised to keep their run going against the
struggling Blue Jackets (5-12-3) with nine consecutive wins in the
series by a 35-18 margin. Those victories, however, haven’t come as
easy lately with both wins this season by one goal.

Chicago, though, is a league-best 10-0-3 in one-goal games,
thanks in large part to stellar goaltending from Emery and Corey
Crawford.

Emery figures to start this game after Crawford had to be
removed following the first period on Thursday with an upper-body
injury. Crawford, the league leader with a 1.46 goals-against
average, was making his second start since returning from an
upper-body injury on Sunday.

Coach Joel Quenneville said Crawford is day to day, and it
wasn’t the same injury that previously sidelined the goalie.

Emery finished with 15 saves to preserve the shutout against the
Blues. He’s also won each of his eight starts, and has a 1.76 GAA
in five home games.

As good as they’ve been playing defensively, the Blackhawks
shouldn’t have much trouble containing a Columbus team that has
scored only 15 goals and converted 3 of 37 power-play chances in 10
road games.

The Blue Jackets rallied from four one-goal deficits and
salvaged a point with a 5-4 overtime loss to Dallas on Tuesday. It
was the third straight loss and sixth in seven games for Columbus,
which has a league-low 13 points.

“The problem is we’re just playing from behind too much,” said
R.J. Umberger, who scored against the Stars. “It’s hard to play
catch-up.”

Columbus may be getting some help with Artem Anisimov expected
to return after missing three games because of a head injury.
Anisimov, who has four goals and two assists in 15 games, provided
one of the goals in a 3-2 home loss to Chicago on Jan. 26. He’s
scored in each of his last two against the Blackhawks.

Patrick Kane finished with two assists in that win and ranks
among the league leaders with 10 goals and 14 assists on the
season. He also has 12 and 22, respectively, in 32 career games
against the Blue Jackets.

Jonathan Toews will try to build off his first two-goal effort
of the season against the Blues. He has 13 goals and 20 assists in
32 games in this series, while Marian Hossa has three goals and
five assists in his last seven against Columbus.

Patrick Sharp also enjoys this matchup, scoring 14 goals in 21
career meetings at home.

Steve Mason is 0-6-0 with a 4.14 GAA in his last six starts in
this series despite limiting the Blackhawks to four goals on 51
shots in two this season.

Sergei Bobrovsky had allowed two goals or fewer in four of five
starts before giving up five to Dallas. He won his only career
start against Chicago on Jan. 23, 2011, with Philadelphia.