Blackhawks-Wild Preview

After an unsuccessful return home, the Chicago Blackhawks head

back to the road looking for a piece of franchise history.

The Blackhawks can follow their first loss in two weeks by

matching the nearly half-century-old club record for consecutive

road wins as they face the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night.

Chicago’s annual road trip while the circus takes over the

United Center lasted seven games and 12 days but ended with six

victories in a row. The club also won six straight away from home

during its record-setting 24-game point streak to open last season,

but the only longer road win streak in franchise history was a

seven-game run Dec. 9-24, 1964.

This stretch of six consecutive road victories has seen the

Blackhawks allow just 10 goals, but their defense was sloppy

Tuesday against Dallas in their first home game since Nov. 19. They

fell into a three-goal deficit before tying the game in an

eight-minute span of the second period, but they lost 4-3 on a

penalty shot in the third.

“It’s nice to be home from that long road trip, but sometimes

there’s a letdown, and you can’t let that happen,” defenseman

Duncan Keith said. “We were guilty of that.”

The Blackhawks (20-5-4) have scored a league-high 51 goals away

from home and Patrick Kane has 10 of them, including four in the

team’s last four road games. Kane, who has 16 goals overall, has

four points in two games after having his 12-game point streak

snapped Friday at Dallas.

Kane has scored in both meetings this season with the Wild, a

home-and-home set that ended with Chicago’s 5-1 win in Minnesota on

Oct. 28. The Blackhawks are 7-0-3 in their last 10 games at Xcel

Energy Center.

“Everybody knows that they’re a world-class team, if not the

best team in the world,” Wild goaltender Josh Harding said of the

defending Stanley Cup champions. “We’re gonna worry about

ourselves.”

Harding missed both October meetings with a lower-body injury,

so having him in net could make all the difference for Minnesota

(16-8-5). He has a league-low 1.45 goals-against average, not

allowing more than three goals in any of his 22 appearances.

Plus, he’s 3-0-0 with a 1.15 goals-against average in four home

games against Chicago. He’s surrendered just 13 goals at home this

season while going 11-1-0, though he wasn’t sure how to explain

that success.

“My fiance maybe cooks a good meal,” Harding joked.

His latest home win came in the team’s most recent game Monday,

turning away 21 shots in a 2-0 victory over Philadelphia.

Jason Pominville and Charlie Coyle scored third-period goals to

provide the difference.

“We’d been giving up the first goal so many times lately,” coach

Mike Yeo said. “I figure if we’re not going to score it, don’t let

them.”

Pominville scored his first goal in six games and leads the team

this season with 14, including three against the Blackhawks.

Chicago goalie Corey Crawford started both meetings, including a

season high for goals allowed in a 5-1 home loss Oct. 26. However,

he’s 2-0-2 with a 1.44 GAA in Minnesota.