The Chicago Blackhawks will put their seven-game win streak on the line Thursday when they face the Boston Bruins for the time this season at TD Garden.
Chicago, of course, beat Boston in an epic six game Stanley Cup Final in 2013 to capture their second title in four years, but Boston has dominated the regular-season series recently. The two teams split two games last season, with each team winning at home. Since the 2006-07 season, Chicago is 3-5-2 in the regular season against Boston, and have not won in Beantown since Jan. 7, 2010.
The Blackhawks have not lost since Nov. 23, a 4-1 loss in Vancouver. Chicago's most recent victory came in a 3-2 shootout over the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on Wednesday.
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane both scored in the shootout to continue the team's longest winning streak since setting a franchise record with 11 consecutive victories from Feb. 15 to March 2013. Duncan Keith tied the game with 3:13 remaining in regulation, and Bryan Bickell also netted a goal, while Scott Darling made 22 saves.
Darling was first off the ice from the morning skate and will make his third consecutive start. The 25-year-old rookie will make his first career appearance against the Bruins. Top goaltender Corey Crawford did participate for the first time during the morning skate after suffering a left foot injury at a concert. Eight days ago, Chicago announced Crawford would be out two to three weeks, but it appears he may return sooner. Crawford started 14 consecutive games, including all six on the Blackhawks' Circus Trip. The Canadian is 12-5-1 with a 1.87 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage.
Patrick Sharp registered the lone assist on Bickell's goal in his return from injury. Sharp missed 14 games with a leg injury and remains on the third line with Bickell and Andrew Shaw. An open roster spot remains after Chicago assigned forward Joakim Nordstrom to Rockford. Nordstrom has recorded two assists in 10 games with Chicago this season. The 22-year-old has eight points (5G, 3A) in 14 games with Rockford this season.
Chicago is 2-0 so far on their four-game road trip that ends Saturday against the New York Islanders at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Opponent Breakdown: Boston Bruins
Top defenseman and captain Zdeno Chara is expected to return after missing 19 games since Oct. 23 with a tore posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Chara practiced Tuesday and Wednesday.
Without Chara's services, Boston has posted a 11-7-1 record, but has only won twice over its past seven outings. Top center David Krejci (lower body) is another possible addition for the Bruins. Krejci missed 17 games, including the past eight, and also practiced the past two days. Boston will be without forward Simon Gagne, who left the team Wednesday for person reasons after his father was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer.
Boston is on the heels of Saturday's 5-2 road win over the Arizona Coyotes, their only win on their four-game road trip. Brad Marchand scored twice, while Gagne, Loui Eriksson and Kevan Miller also scored. Tuukka Rask allowed two goals on 26 shots in the win. Marchand has three goals and five points in four games in December and has been joined by Reilly Smith with two goals and four points.
In wake of Krejci and now Gagne's absence, the Bruins called up Craig Cunningham from Providence as a versatile option to play center or wing.
Rask is expected to start for Boston and is 12-8-1 with a 2.56 GAA and .912 SV through 21 games this season. The Finnish native is 1-0-1 with a 1.16 GAA and .961 in three regular season contests against Chicago.
Forwards Daniel Paille and Carl Soderberg are questionable with illness. Boston will host Ottawa on Saturday to cap their brief two-game home stand. The Bruins are 9-5-1 at TD Garden and 6-7-0 on the road this season.
Chicago: Corey Crawford (foot) and Trevor van Riemsdyk (knee)
Boston: David Krejci (hip), Adam McQuaid (thumb) and Marc Savard (concussion)
When: 6 p.m. CT
Where: TD Garden
TV: CSN Chicago
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