The Chicago Blackhawks are searching for answers to invigorate their attack after a poor trip.
The Columbus Blue Jackets boast the NHL’s top goal scorer this month and can establish a franchise-record road win streak Friday night by winning at the United Center for the first time in four seasons.
Red-hot Scott Hartnell looks to lead the Blue Jackets to a seventh straight win away from home and help them end an 0-5-1 road slide against the Blackhawks.
Chicago (44-23-6) scored five goals in a 2-2-0 trip capped by Wednesday’s 4-1 defeat to Philadelphia. Andrew Shaw scored for the third time in the last two games for the Blackhawks, who went 7-1-1 in the nine contests prior to the trek.
"It was a tough stretch, we didn’t play very well on this road trip," captain Jonathan Toews said. "As a group, we’ll figure out what’s going on and what we have to do better and what we have to do to get everyone firing and get all four lines engaged and get that energy and enthusiasm back that we did before that road trip."
Chicago has scored two or fewer goals in seven of 12 games since Patrick Kane was lost for the regular season with a fractured left clavicle. Kane has a team-best 27 goals.
Toews is second with 23 goals and Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa have 21 apiece. All three failed to score on the trip.
Columbus (34-35-4) has matched the franchise record of six straight road wins Jan. 19-Feb. 18, 2011. The Blue Jackets have won four straight overall following Tuesday’s 5-3 victory over Pacific Division-leading Anaheim.
Hartnell notched his eighth career hat trick, giving him 11 goals this month with nine in the last eight games.
Columbus, which has scored 17 goals in the four-game win streak, has won seven of eight. This is the start of a back-to-back with a game at St. Louis on Saturday.
"These last few weeks, we’ll have to measure up against the teams we’re playing to gain some confidence going into the summer, knowing that we can play and play well," Hartnell said. "We want to keep it up."
The Blackhawks are trying to catch the Blues and Nashville in the Central Division. They lead Minnesota by three points for the division’s last automatic playoff berth.
Coach Joel Quenneville will give ice time to forward Teuvo Teravainen, who was a healthy scratch Wednesday, and will start Corey Crawford in net. Crawford posted a 1.48 goals-against average in winning 10 straight starts against the Blue Jackets before a 17-save effort in a 3-2 shootout road loss Dec. 20.
Columbus ended an 0-10-3 slide in the series that night despite being outshot 41-19. Sergei Bobrovsky, who will start Friday, made 39 saves. He has a 1.95 GAA in winning all five road starts this month.
Center Ryan Johansen has six points in a five-game run.
The Blue Jackets are among the NHL leaders in power-play percentage this month at 33.3. Hartnell has scored four times in that span with the man advantage.
Center Brandon Dubinsky is expected to return from a four-game absence due to an upper-body injury.