Dustin Byfuglien, Michael Frolik and captain Andrew Ladd each won a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks, and their tenures with that club may be part of the reason the Winnipeg Jets seem so comfortable playing at United Center.
The Jets seek their third victory in Chicago this season and fourth straight overall as they face the rested Blackhawks on Friday night.
Winnipeg is chasing the franchise’s first playoff berth since 2007 when it was based in Atlanta, which would be a drastic improvement from its last-place finish in ’13-14.
The Jets (23-14-8) trail the Blackhawks (28-13-4) and St. Louis – which are tied for second – by four points in the Central Division and have gone 3-0-1 since dropping four of their previous five. They beat Dallas 2-1 on Thursday with goals from Frolik and Evander Kane, who has scored in three straight.
"It’s definitely nice to get some offense going," said Kane, who has just one assist in his last six against Chicago. "(Friday) is a big game. That has to be our focus. We’ve had some success in that building and hopefully we can continue that."
Frolik, who won the 2013 Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks, scored 20 seconds into the game in Winnipeg’s 1-0 victory Nov. 2 in Chicago. Byfuglien and Ladd, members of the 2010 championship squad, combined for three assists in a 5-1 road win Dec. 23.
Ladd has two goals and four assists on a four-game point streak against Chicago, which has been outscored 9-2 in the last three meetings – all at United Center.
"They keep coming at you," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "They get you disrupted, and I think that’s what we saw here both times. I think we got outworked both times we played them, and you can’t expect to beat them when you’re just out there playing."
The Blackhawks have had plenty of time to prepare for this meeting after opening a four-game homestand by beating Minnesota 4-1 on Sunday. Marian Hossa and Bryan Bickell had a goal and an assist apiece for Chicago, which has split its last six.
"You get two days away to get re-energized, then we had two good practices and I think they’re ready to play," Quenneville said. "We’re playing a team that’s had some success against us twice already (at United Center). We can’t let them come in here and beat us all three times."
Winnipeg native Jonathan Toews has five assists over his last three, but the Blackhawks are still waiting for top prospect Teuvo Teravainen to record his first NHL point. This will be the 20-year-old’s fifth contest since being recalled from the AHL, and he’ll start on the third line with fellow winger Patrick Sharp and center Andrew Shaw.
"I think Teuvo has played his best when (he and Sharp) were together," Quenneville said. "Hopefully they can generate some offense. Teuvo looked like he got to (another) level and had the puck a lot more."
Corey Crawford will be in net after making 36 saves against the Wild. He’s started each of the last three losses to Winnipeg while posting a 2.69 goals-against average.
Michael Hutchinson recorded his only career shutout with 33 saves in the first meeting with Chicago. He could get the nod again after Ondrej Pavelec made a season-high 46 saves Thursday.