Preview: Islanders at Blackhawks

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[March 03, 2017]  The Chicago Blackhawks have been nearly unbeatable since the beginning of February and have first place in the Central Division and Western Conference in their sights. Chicago looks to inch closer to the top spot and extend its winning streak to six games as it wraps up its four-game homestand Friday against the New York Islanders.

The Blackhawks have gone 10-1-0 since January concluded, losing only to Edmonton at home Feb. 18, to climb within three points of division- and conference-leading Minnesota but will have played three more games before the Wild take the ice again Sunday. New York is in a fierce battle for the second wild card in the East, as fewer than 10 points separate seven teams in the race for the spot while the two remaining clubs in the conference still have a fighting chance. The Islanders improved to 3-1-0 on their nine-game road trip Thursday, rallying for a 5-4 triumph at Dallas five days after an embarrassing 7-0 setback in Columbus. Chicago claimed the first meeting of the season in New York on Dec. 15 as Richard Panik snapped a tie with 6:13 remaining in the third period to produce a 5-4 victory.

TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, MSG Plus (New York), WGN (Chicago)

ABOUT THE ISLANDERS (30-22-10): New York scored four consecutive goals Thursday, including three in the third period, to overcome a 3-1 deficit and held on for the win as Ryan Strome (goal, two assists) registered his second three-point performance in five games. Joshua Ho-Sang made his NHL debut against the Stars, recording two shots in just more than 17 minutes of ice time. The 21-year-old center, who was the 28th overall pick in the 2014 draft, was the American Hockey League's Player of the Month for February after amassing 15 points in 12 games.

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ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (40-18-5): Jonathan Toews was kept off the scoresheet in Wednesday's 4-1 triumph over Pittsburgh, ending a six-game point streak during which he collected five goals and eight assists. The 28-year-old captain, who will be playing in his 700th career game Friday, needs one goal to overtake Jeremy Roenick (267) for sole possession of eighth place on the franchise list. Patrick Kane is riding a three-game goal-scoring streak that has featured a pair of hat tricks while Panik and rookie Nick Schmaltz look to extend their point streaks to eight and six contests, respectively.

OVERTIME

1. Johnny Oduya, who was acquired from Dallas on Tuesday, hopes to make his debut in his second stint with the Blackhawks on Friday while fellow D Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body) and C Artem Anisimov (lower body) are questionable.

2. New York RW Cal Clutterbuck, who returned to the lineup from a lower-body injury Thursday, is one goal shy of 100 for his career while D Dennis Seidenberg's next assist will be his 200th in the NHL.

3. Chicago has scored at least four goals in each of its last 11 victories and is 27-0-0 this season when netting four or more tallies.

PREDICTION: Blackhawks 5, Islanders 2

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