Beating the reigning Stanley Cup champions may have been just
what the Central Division-leading Chicago Blackhawks needed to
re-establish their strong play. A meeting with the struggling New
York Rangers may also help.
The Blackhawks look to beat the Rangers for the first time in
over four years Wednesday night when the Original Six teams meet at
the United Center.
Chicago (18-7-3) won a season-high eight straight games before
losing three of four heading into Saturday’s game against the
Pittsburgh Penguins. The Blackhawks – considered a favorite to
reach their first Cup finals since 1992 – beat the reigning champs
2-1 as Kris Versteeg scored 2:38 into overtime.
“To come in and beat the Stanley Cup champs is special,” said
Versteeg, who has two goals in the last three games and nine
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville may opt to use backup goaltender
Antti Niemi again after he made 32 saves against Pittsburgh. He’s
5-1-1 with a 1.71 goals-against average and two shutouts in seven
games, while Cristobal Huet is 1-2-1 with a 2.65 GAA in his last
Huet has also lost his last four starts against the Rangers
(14-14-1), posting a 4.64 GAA.
“We just talked about how well he’s played and he deserves maybe
a little more ice time,” Quenneville said of Niemi, who played
three games as a rookie last season. “But it’s nice to know that
the tandem we have, the one-two punch is strong.”
The Blackhawks have lost their last three meetings with New York
dating to a 2-1 overtime win on Dec. 7, 2005. They dropped both
matchups last season, including a 3-2 overtime defeat at home Jan.
The Rangers are looking to rebound from their fourth loss in
five games. They were in position to build a two-goal lead early in
the second period Sunday, but Ryan Callahan’s penalty shot was
saved by Jimmy Howard, and they lost 3-1 to Detroit.
That performance came one night after Callahan netted the
eventual winner in the third period of a 2-1 victory at
“We just come away empty,” coach John Tortorella said. “I
thought we played two good games, but you just want to get
something out of it; a point out of it, but we didn’t. We have to
fight through it. I thought we played well. We’ll go back at
Marian Gaborik will try to avoid going a second consecutive game
without a point for the first time since Dec. 19-20, 2008, with
The right wing leads the NHL with 21 goals, and his 38 points
are among the league leaders.
Despite Gaborik’s outstanding production, he’s managed to score
in just one of the last five games – a two-goal performance in a
5-2 loss to Pittsburgh on Nov. 30.
Gaborik has eight goals and three assists in his last seven
games at the United Center.