Blues-Blackhawks Preview

After a sluggish start, the Chicago Blackhawks are beginning to

resemble last season’s Stanley Cup championship team.

With the offense getting on track and Marty Turco looking solid

in goal, the Blackhawks seek a third straight win Monday night when

they host a St. Louis Blues team trying to avoid losing its third

in a row.

Chicago (3-2-1) earned one point in its first two games and

dropped three of its first four – a less than impressive start for

the defending champs.

The Blackhawks’ offense finally came to life Friday in a 5-2

victory in Columbus, and played well again in Saturday’s 4-3 win

over Buffalo.

Patrick Sharp scored two goals in each win, including the

deciding score Saturday with 7:08 left in the third period.

“They’re going in right now, and hopefully we get a bunch more,”

said Sharp, who hasn’t scored in three straight games since the

first three of last season.

Sharp isn’t the only one finding the back of the net with

regularity. Marion Hossa scored again Saturday, giving him four

goals in his last four games.

“I’m getting good passes and trying to do something with them,”

said Hossa, who leads the Blackhawks with nine points. “I feel like

I’m getting good movement right now, and things are going a good

way.”

Turco also seems to be heading in the right direction.

Acquired in the offseason to take over the starting job after

Antti Niemi signed with San Jose, Turco allowed seven goals while

losing his first two starts, but has turned aside 68 of 73 shots

(.932) to win his last two.

Winning again Monday could be tough for Turco, who is 2-6-1 with

a 3.46 goals-against average in his last nine starts against the

Blues.

The Blackhawks went 4-2-0 against St. Louis last season with

Sharp and Hossa leading the way. Sharp had four goals and two

assists in the season series, while Hossa added three goals and

three assists.

The Blues (2-1-1) arrive in Chicago trying to salvage the finale

of a three-game road trip after losing each of the first two by one

goal.

St. Louis was in good position to get a victory Saturday in

Dallas after Patrik Berglund and Andy McDonald scored in the first

3:48 of the first period, but the Blues squandered the early

two-goal lead and lost 3-2 in a shootout. They wasted several

scoring opportunities, outshooting the Stars 43-25 but failing to

capitalize on three third-period power plays, including a

five-on-three for 1:07.

“We’re not satisfied,” St. Louis coach Davis Payne said. “In

the third period on the five-on-three, we didn’t get clean looks.

We would have liked to score.”

The Blues, who are 5 for 29 on the power play, could again have

trouble converting with the man advantage against the Blackhawks,

who have killed 22 of 25 penalties.

St. Louis also has a new goalie for 2010-11, with Jaroslav Halak

taking over after leading Montreal to the Eastern Conference finals

last season.

Halak, who was given a scheduled day off Saturday, stopped 42 of

44 shots while winning his first two starts. He wasn’t as sharp

Thursday, making 18 saves in a 4-3 loss to Nashville. He is

expected to be back between the pipes to make his first appearance

against the Blackhawks.