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Struggling Blackhawks host Blues

Chicago is 1-4-1 in its past six games.

NHL: MAR 18 Blues at Blackhawks Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Blackhawks open December by hosting the Blues for the first game this season between the Central Division rivals Monday at the United Center.

Chicago (10-11-5) enters the matchup after dropping both games of a home-and-home against the Avalanche where they were outscored 12-5. The back-to-back losses have the Blackhawks sliding down the standings with a 1-4-1 record in their last six gams.

The Blackhawks were without veteran defenseman Duncan Keith (groin) during Saturday’s 7-3 beatdown in Denver. Keith’s absence was noticeable as the team looked more lost than usual in their own zone. Chicago has not given a timetable on his return. Slater Koekkoek stepped into the lineup for Keith and collected two hits and was on the ice for one goal against in 15:34 minutes.

Corey Crawford will start for Chicago as Robin Lehner is out with flu-like symptoms. The Blackhawks recalled Kevin Lankinen from the AHL to backup Crawford, and in a corresponding move sent defenseman Ian McCoshen back down to the Rockford IceHogs. Crawford is 5-6-2 with a .912 save-percentage and a 1.23 goals saved above average this season.

Chicago will also be without winger Andrew Shaw, who will not play due to an undisclosed injury. Consequently, the Blackhawks will use 11 forwards and six defensemen. Forward Dylan Strome remains in concussion protocol, but is nearing a return after skating Monday morning.

The main bright spot for the Blackhawks of late is Patrick Kane, who scored a power-play goal Saturday to extend his point streak to 15 games. He has 11 goals and 13 assists during his point streak, and leads the team in scoring with 33 points (14 goals, 19 assists). He’ll likely be double shifted in Monday’s game.

Alex DeBrincat has gone 11 games without a goal, but his history against the Blues suggest his drought could end Monday. The soon-to-be 22-year-old has a nice six goals in nine career games against St. Louis.

The Western Conference-leading Blues (17-5-6) won their third straight game with a 5-2 victory against the Penguins on Saturday in St. Louis. They’re 5-1-1 in their last seven and have scored five-plus goals six times this season.

St. Louis defenseman Robert Bortuzzo is eligible to return Monday from his four-game suspension for cross-checking Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson on Nov. 23. Arvidsson is expected to miss 3-5 more weeks with an injury due to the hit.

The Blues have dealt with their fair share of injuries with forwards Alexander Steen (ankle) and Oskar Sundqvist (foot) currently out, and star winger Alex Tarasenko (shoulder) done for the season. With Tarasenko sidelined, David Perron leads the Blues in scoring with 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists) and Ryan O’Reilly is right behind with 26 points (six goals, 20 assists). Brayden Schenn is the Blues’ leading goal scorer with 13.

Jake Allen is slated to start for St. Louis. He’s 4-1-2 with a .914 save percentage and a 1.02 GSAA. In his last three starts, he’s only given up six goals on 110 shots for a .945 save percentage.

Series history

The Blackhawks were 4-1 against St. Louis last season, including a perfect 3-0 record in Chicago. Kane paced the Blackhawks with nine points (five goals, four assists), while Tarasenko — one of the most productive players against Chicago in past five seasons — had seven points (five goals, two assists).

Tale of the tape

Blackhawks — Statistic — Blues

47.5% (26th) — Corsi For — 49.5% (18th)

48.9% (24th) — Faceoff — 51.2% (8th)

2.85 (t-20th) — Goals per game — 3.07 (14th)

3.00 (t-16th) — Goals against per game — 2.57 (5th)

13.8% (26th) — Power play — 24.1% (6th)

80.5% (19th) — Penalty kill — 83.8% (10th)

Lineups

*Lineups will be updated, if needed

Blackhawks

Saad — Toews — TBD

DeBrincat — Carpenter — Kane

Kubalik — Kampf — Nylander

Smith — Dach — Wedin

Maatta — Murphy

de Haan — Seabrook

Gustafsson — Koekkoek

Crawford

Lankinen

*Injured: Caggiula (concussion), Keith (groin), Lehner (flu), Shaw (undisclosed), Strome (concussion)

Blues

Schwartz — Schenn — Walker

Sanford — O’Reilly — Perron

Barbashev — Bozak — Thomas

MacEachern — de la Rose — Brouwer

Parayko — Pietrangelo

Bouwmeester — Faulk

Dunn — Bortuzzo

Allen

Binnington

*Injured: Blais (undisclosed), Foley (concussion), Gunnarsson (illness), Taranseko (shoulder), Steen (ankle), Sundqvist (lower body)

How to watch

When: 7:30 p.m.

Where: United Center, Chicago

TV: NBC Sports Chicago

Live stream: NBC Sports app, NHL.TV