Preview: Hurricanes at Blackhawks
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[March 21, 2014]
The Carolina Hurricanes are quickly
running out of time in their quest for an Eastern Conference playoff
berth. The Chicago Blackhawks find themselves in the same squeeze in
their pursuit of the top seed in the West as the teams face off Friday
night in the Windy City. Chicago is coming off an impressive 4-0 victory
over St. Louis, but still finds itself six points behind the
conference-leading Blues with 12 to play and lost star Patrick Kane to a
knee injury in the win.
Carolina's situation is more dire as the Hurricanes are nine
points out of the East wild-card race, but have four teams between
them and that final playoff spot. Carolina's postseason aspirations
were bolstered slightly last time out, as it earned a 3-1 victory
over the Columbus Blue Jackets on the strength of a sensational
46-save performance from Anton Khudobin. Patrick Sharp had the
shootout winner as Chicago earned a 3-2 victory in its last
encounter Oct. 15.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSCR (Carolina), CSCH (Chicago)
ABOUT THE HURRICANES (30-30-9): Carolina coach Kirk Muller is not
thrilled with how his team has played of late, and tore a strip off
his players following a particularly grueling Monday practice. He
berated them for "playing for the scoresheet" while shouting that
"losing is for losers" — and apparently the message sunk in, as
Carolina responded against the Blue Jackets. "You're a good group of
guys but the culture is going to change," he told his players,
according to the Raleigh News and Observer. "It takes work, it takes
ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (40-15-15): The mood was somber in the Chicago
dressing room following the injury to Kane, putting a damper on what
was one of the team's most complete victories of the season. "It's
tough," forward Andrew Shaw told reporters. "You can't replace a guy
like that. Guys have to step up. We have to compete and work for one
another." Kane, who sits in the top 10 in league scoring with 69
points in as many games, is expected to miss three weeks but could
be out longer than that.
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The teams have split their last six meetings dating back to 2008.
Khudobin has stopped 77 of 80 shots over his last two games.
Hurricanes captain Eric Staal is still looking for his first goal
this month, having been limited to five assists in 10 games.
PREDICTION: Blackhawks 4, Hurricanes 1
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