Saturday, December 13, 2014
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Preview: Blackhawks at Islanders

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[December 13, 2014]  SportsDirectInc 2014. All Rights Reserved
 Source News Feed: US Online Report NHL
 The Chicago Blackhawks have ripped off eight consecutive victories and can complete a perfect four-game road trip when they pay a visit to the slumping New York Islanders on Saturday. Chicago improved to 11-1-0 with a 3-2 victory at Boston on Thursday to become the first team in the league to reach 20 wins. Captain Jonathan Toews had to exit Thursday's game when he was knocked headfirst into the boards, but is traveling with the team to Long Island.

The Islanders had been among the league's hottest teams with 13 wins in 15 games before dropping three straight to match a season-worst losing streak. New York has been surrendering goals at an alarming rate, yielding 17 during the three-game skid and allowing the opposition to score at least three unanswered tallies in each defeat. "We'll give up five a night if we keep mismanaging the puck," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "They'll figure it out sooner or later, and if not they won't be in the lineup."

TV: 7 p.m. ET, WGN (Chicago), MSG (New York)

ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (20-8-1): Toews was slammed into the boards in the second period by Boston defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, but the league decided the hit did not warrant a disciplinary hearing. With goaltender Corey Crawford still sidelined by a lower-body injury, rookie Scott Darling is making a strong bid to supplant Antti Raanta as the backup netminder, winning all three starts on the road trip to improve to 5-1-0. Patrick Kane scored his team-high 13th goal Thursday and has nine tallies and 17 points over the last 13 games.

ABOUT THE ISLANDERS (19-10-0): New York fortified its defense in the offseason by signing ex-Blackhawk Nick Leddy along with Johnny Boychuk and the additions were a key to its fast start. Leddy, who has not missed a game in three-plus seasons, is tied with Boychuk at a team-best plus-7 - although the latter has missed the last seven contests. Goaltending has suddenly become a front-burner concern for the Islanders after Jaroslav Halak - another offseason signee - gave up 11 goals in his last two outings following an 11-start winning streak.

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1. Chicago is 9-3-0 versus the Eastern Conference while the Islanders look to avoid a fourth straight defeat to a Central Division foe.

2. Halak has only one regulation loss (6-1-3) in 11 starts versus the Blackhawks.

3. Chicago has converted only 1-of-24 power-play chances in its last seven games but has killed off 23-of-24 penalties in the past eight.

PREDICTION: Blackhawks 4, Islanders 3

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