Islanders face tough task trying to stop Blackhawks’ Kane
CHICAGO — Patrick Kane continues to dazzle Chicago Blackhawks fans and teammates alike.
After scoring two hat tricks in his last three games, it’s no wonder some have dubbed him “Hat Trick Kane.”
“Unbelievable,” said Nick Schmaltz, a rookie center with the Blackhawks. “He’s been doing it all year. Pucks are going in for him right now. It’s fun to see, it’s fun to watch.”
The New York Islanders hope to hit pause on Kane’s highlight reel.
Kane and his teammates will try to maintain their terrific play on Friday night when the Blackhawks (40-18-5) host the Islanders (30-22-10). The game marks the second and final regular-season meeting between the teams after Chicago claimed a 5-4 win in the first matchup on Dec. 15.
Both clubs enter the game with plenty of confidence.
Chicago has won five in a row and is 10-1-0 in its past 11 games. Offense has come easily for the Blackhawks, who have 24 goals in their past five games for an average of 4.8 per outing.
Kane has led the outburst with seven goals in his past three games and 12 goals in his last 11. Meanwhile, Richard Panik is riding a seven-game point streak (five goals, five assists) and is up to 17 goals for the season. Schmaltz owns a five-game point streak (two goals, seven assists).
The Islanders also can create headaches for opposing goaltenders. New York improved to 4-1-0 in its past five games after outlasting the Dallas Stars for a 5-4 win on Thursday night. The win improved the team’s record to 13-5-2 since Doug Weight replaced Jack Capuano behind the bench.
Islanders captain John Tavares enters Friday’s matchup with 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) in his last 17 games. Teammate Ryan Strome has 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in his last 14 games.
“We always talk about consistency,” Islanders defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. “I think doing the same thing over and over, I think that’s what makes you strong, and that’s what we have to do (Friday) — come out, play simple hockey, play effective and we’ll be fine.”
Chicago expects to be without center Artem Anisimov, who did not practice Thursday because of a lower-body injury that he sustained Wednesday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Anisimov has 22 goals this season, which trails only Kane’s 27 for the most on the team.
“Hopefully, it’s not too serious,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “If he does miss (any amount of games), it won’t be significant.”
Left winger Artemi Panarin is questionable for the game because of an upper-body injury that also kept him out of practice Thursday. Panarin is second on the team with 56 points (19 goals, 37 assists) in 63 games.
Quenneville said goaltender Corey Crawford will start for Chicago. He is 24-13-3 with a 2.96 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage this season.
For the Islanders, Jean-Francois Berube could start in net unless Weight opts to go with Thomas Greiss for the second time in as many nights. Greiss allowed four goals on 25 shots against the Stars.
The Blackhawks have won four consecutive games against the Islanders and have posted an 8-1-1 record against them since Jan. 9, 2011.