Preview: Stars at Blackhawks

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[March 23, 2017]  The Chicago Blackhawks may have stumbled in their last outing, but coach Joel Quenneville told reporters that he's interested in the long haul as the team prepares to make its ninth consecutive postseason appearance. The Blackhawks still have a bit of business on their plate as they look to continue their dominance of the Dallas Stars on Thursday when the Central Division rivals conclude their season series at the United Center.

"We have (nine) to go and want to make sure we're fresh. At the same time, we want to be competitive," Quenneville told CSN Chicago after the Blackhawks saw their five-game winning streak come to an end with a 5-4 overtime loss to Vancouver on Tuesday. "We're looking to play games and in games, if we have a chance to back off a little bit, that'll be dictated by the score, the time of the game." Western Conference-leading Chicago has won 17 of 21 to enjoy a six-point lead over Minnesota in the Central Division and has emerged victorious in all four encounters with Dallas this season. Kari Lehtonen sports an 0-2-1 mark with a gaudy 3.65 goals-against average and .884 save percentage in three of those outings, but enters with some momentum following a 30-save performance in Monday's 1-0 victory over San Jose.

TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, FSN Southwest-Plus (Dallas), CSN Chicago, NHL.TV

ABOUT THE STARS (29-33-10): Curtis McKenzie, who scored his team's lone goal on Monday, is enjoying a career season by setting personal bests in goals (five), assists (eight), points (13) and games played (48). The 26-year-old British Columbia native has recorded points in two of his three contests at the United Center and in three of his six career games versus the Blackhawks. Tyler Seguin, who is no stranger to offense with team-leading totals in goals (24), assists (44) and points (68), has just one point in his last five contests after erupting for 16 (three goals, 13 assists) in his previous 11.

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ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (47-20-6): While Quenneville is taking a more cautious approach with the upcoming journey, Ryan Hartman plans to go full steam ahead as Chicago eyes a division title and perhaps the Presidents' Trophy to boot. "It's still the regular season. Nobody's taking the foot off the gas pedal," the 22-year-old told CSN Chicago. "We're still trying to win hockey games and you want to come into the playoffs with a winning atmosphere and winning attitude." Hartman scored twice in Tuesday's 5-4 overtime loss and has two goals and an assist in four meetings this season with the Stars.
 


OVERTIME

1. Chicago captain Jonathan Toews, who is riding a five-game point streak (three goals, three assists), and RW Patrick Kane have each scored three goals and set up two others versus Dallas this season.

2. Stars D John Klingberg leads his team with three points - all assists - against the Blackhawks in 2016-17.

3. Chicago has thwarted 11 of 12 short-handed situations versus Dallas this season.

PREDICTION: Stars 4, Blackhawks 2

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