Blackhawks-Red Wings Preview

Though it hasn’t always been easy, the Chicago Blackhawks are

finding ways to win while keeping their season-opening point streak

intact.

The visiting Blackhawks expect another serious challenge when

they look for a ninth straight victory by continuing their recent

success against the surging archrival Detroit Red Wings on

Sunday.

While Chicago (18-0-3) is 21-0-6 since losing 6-1 at home to

Nashville on March 25, it’s often had to work hard to maintain its

record-setting start without a regulation loss in 2013. One night

after rolling to a 3-0 win at St. Louis, the Blackhawks overcame a

pair of one-goal deficits and a blown third-period lead before

Brent Seabrook’s goal gave them a 4-3 overtime win over lowly

Columbus on Friday.

“We were down early in this game,” said forward Bryan Bickell,

who has a goal and two assists in four games. “It shows the

character in this room to come back. It’s been fun. We’re just

having a blast right now.”

Chicago’s enjoyment has come from a confidence that continues to

grow while believing it can prevail no matter how challenging the

situation. The Blackhawks, who average 3.2 goals and yield 1.9, are

11-0-3 in one-goal games.

“You get that swagger and confidence when you’re on a streak

like this,” said forward Viktor Stalberg, who has three goals with

an assist in five games. “You have confidence you’ll find a way to

get it done.”

With that attitude in tow, the Blackhawks face their biggest

rival looking to win nine straight for the first time since Dec.

7-28, 2008. Chicago is 13-0-4 on the road since losing 5-1 at St.

Louis on March 6, and in the midst of a 7-0-1 stretch at

Detroit.

Chicago has won four straight and nine of 13 overall against the

Red Wings (10-8-3), but the last eight have been decided by a goal.

Defenseman Nick Leddy scored 2:45 into overtime for a 2-1 home win

over Detroit on Jan. 27.

Corey Crawford is among the NHL leaders at 9-0-3 with a 1.46

goals-against average, and could start for the Blackhawks after

playing one period Thursday before leaving with an upper-body

injury. He was between the pipes in this season’s first meeting,

and is 4-0-1 with a 1.94 GAA at Joe Louis Arena the last two

seasons.

Jimmy Howard will be back in the Detroit net after Jonas

Gustavsson made 25 saves in Thursday’s 2-1 shootout win at San

Jose. Rookie Damien Brunner had the lone shootout goal to lead the

Red Wings to their third win in four games following an 0-3-2

stretch.

“This is the best our team has looked all year, not necessarily

the way we’ve played, the way we’ve looked,” coach Mike Babcock

said after his team improved to 4-4-3 in one-goal games.

The Red Wings have allowed 1.5 goals in the last four after

yielding 3.8 in the previous five.

They prevailed Thursday despite failing on two power-play

chances to fall to 0 for 33 on the road. Detroit is 3 for 23 with

the man advantage in the last eight versus Chicago at Joe Louis

Arena, but ranks among the NHL leaders converting 24.6 percent of

those opportunities at home this season. The Red Wings are 4 of 7

in the last two at there.

The Blackhawks are killing 94.7 percent of their penalties on

the road.

Johan Franzen, who scored Detroit’s goal at Chicago, does not

have a point during a five-game stretch that was interrupted when

he missed seven with a hip flexor.

Howard is 0-1-2 in his last four starts against the Blackhawks,

but has a 2.04 GAA.

Chicago center Dave Bolland could miss a fifth straight game

reportedly with a concussion.