Preview: Blackhawks at Lightning

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[March 27, 2017]  The Chicago Blackhawks look to put an end to a string of unsatisfying performances when they visit the desperate Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday. The Blackhawks are in control of the Central Division - and the Western Conference - as they lead Minnesota by seven points with seven games to go but have allowed 17 goals in their last four games, including Friday's 7-0 loss at Florida.

Chicago lost to Vancouver 5-4 in overtime on Tuesday and were outshot 44-26 in a shootout win over Dallas two nights later while coach Joel Quenneville called Friday’s setback an "ugly, ugly" game. “If we continue to play like that and think we’re going to turn it on come playoff time, we’ve got another thing coming,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews told reporters. The Lightning would just like to get into the postseason after a campaign filled with injuries and inconsistent play, but they swept a critical two-game road trip to stay within three points of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference and four of third place in the Atlantic Division. Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov is making a run at the Maurice Richard Trophy as he is four behind Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby (42) after scoring seven in the last four games and 17 in the last 16 contests.

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TVA, CSN Chicago

ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (48-21-6): Reigning Hart Trophy winner Patrick Kane was one of several Chicago players to struggle Friday as he posted a minus-4 rating, but the team’s leading scorer still has recorded 21 points in his last 15 games. Kane has notched 81 points overall - seven behind Edmonton's Connor McDavid for the league lead and 15 clear of teammate Artemi Panarin - while Toews is up to 55 with seven in his last seven games. Corey Crawford has allowed four goals in two of his last three starts, with a brilliant 42-save effort against Dallas sandwiched in between.

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ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (36-29-9): Kucherov is two away from his first 40-goal season and has prospered with new center Brayden Point, who set up the talented Russian for the overtime winner at Detroit on Friday. Tyler Johnson (lower body), Kucherov’s long-time linemate, is progressing but is not expected to play Monday while defenseman Jason Garrison (lower body) also is doubtful. Cedric Paquette (lower body) is practicing and could return to the lineup Monday after missing the last eight games.


1. The Lightning have earned at least one point in their last 10 regular-season meetings with the Blackhawks (8-0-2).

2. Chicago RW Richard Panik, who scored eight times in the first 75 games of his career with Tampa Bay, has recorded 20 goals in 75 contests this season.

3. Tampa Bay LW Ondrej Palat, who is slated to play in his 300th NHL game, has collected a goal and five assists during his four-game point streak.

PREDICTION: Blackhawks 4, Lightning 2

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