The return of two-time Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith combined with the continued stellar play of Patrick Kane and his Russian linemates have paced the surging Chicago Blackhawks.
Looking for a fourth consecutive victory Friday night, the Blackhawks try to continue their success over a Calgary Flames team that appears to have turned things around at home.
Chicago (11-7-1) has not lost in three games since Keith returned after missing 10 with a knee injury. The Blackhawks allowed an average of 3.6 goals during a 2-4-1 slump before he came back, and they've since yielded 2.0 per game while he's recorded two goals and an assist with a plus-5 rating.
The club's penalty kill has held opponents to 1 for 11 on the power play since he returned.
Keith scored a power-play goal in Wednesday's 4-3 overtime win at Edmonton, but again the play of Kane, rookie Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov paved the way as Chicago opened its six-game trip on a positive note.
“It's a good start,” said goaltender Corey Crawford, who made 34 saves. “But you can't get ahead of yourself on these long road trips.”
Panarin had a goal, and one of his two assists set up Marian Hossa's winner. Kane also had two assists, and Anisimov added one for a trio that's been responsible for 45.1 percent of Chicago's production.
“It's been a great start to the season for that group,” coach Joel Quenneville said.
Though Kane failed to score for an eighth straight game, he has 10 goals and 14 assists during a 14-game point streak that matches the longest of his career. Panarin, whose 21 points are second to Kane's 30, has five goals and five assists during a six-game point streak. Anisimov has four points in the last three games.
“Their play recognition has been fun to watch, the consistency has been there night in, night out,” Quenneville said. “Our opponents, I'm sure, have got to keep aware every time they're on the ice.”
The trio accounted for two goals and two assists in Sunday's 4-1 home victory win over the Flames (7-12-1). Kane, who turned 27 on Thursday, has five goals and three assists during a five-game point streak at Calgary.
The Blackhawks are in the midst of a 7-0-3 stretch against the Flames, including 3-0-1 at the Saddledome.
Calgary, however, recorded its third straight home victory Tuesday, 3-2 over New Jersey. David Jones scored his 100th goal to go with an assist and Joe Colborne added two assists for the Flames, who returned from a 1-3-0 trip.
“To be competitive and work your way up the standings you have to win at home, first and foremost, and then you try to gain some points on the road,” Jones told the NHL's official website.
Calgary won 23 home games last season en route to making the playoffs for the first time in six years. The Flames allowed an average of 4.7 goals while losing five of their first six at home this season before giving up five total in the last three.
“This is such a great building with our crowd, we have to win here,” Jones said. “That's the bottom line.”
Jones, who scored at Chicago last weekend, has recorded four of his seven goals in the last five games.