The Blackhawks continue their five-game road trip through Western Canada on Saturday when they play the Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.
Chicago (25-24-8) is coming off one of its best performances at five-on-five in a 3-0 loss to the Canucks on Wednesday. The Blackhawks dominated puck possession with a 69.9-percent Corsi-For, 32 scoring chances, 12 high-danger scoring chances and 2.75 expected goals for, but Jacob Markstrom was incredible in a 49-save shutout.
There’s no time to sulk as the Blackhawks are six points out of the second wild card spot with three games in hand on Arizona.
Jeremy Colliton on the Blackhawks' leadership group and how it's helped keep the team upbeat: pic.twitter.com/8gYa3nbkOZ— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) February 15, 2020
Robin Lehner is expected to start for the Blackhawks against Calgary (30-23-6). He’s lost three straight starts since Jan. 19, and is 15-9-5 with a .921 save percentage this season.
Matthew Highmore will return to the lineup for Zack Smith, who will be out for seven to 10 days with a left hand injury from a skate blade cut. Highmore has three points (one goal, two assists) in 23 games and a 46.2-percent Corsi-For.
The Flames are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games after a 6-0 win against the Ducks on Thursday in Anaheim. Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau pace the Flames with 47 points, while Elias Lindholm and Sean Monahan are not far behind with 46 and 40 points, respectively.
If Chicago has Duncan Keith or Connor Murphy matched up against Tkachuk they can diminish the 22-year-old’s impact on the game. When Tkachuk is off his game, the Flames become a one line team. Outside of its big four, Calgary doesn’t have another forward with more than 10 goals.
Flames captain Mark Giordano (hamstring) and fellow defenseman Travis Hamonic (upper body) will be out with injuries, which gives the Blackhawks an opportunity to capitalize on an inexperienced defensive lineup. But Chicago has struggled to take advantage of opportunities during its road trip.
David Rittich is expected to be in net for Calgary after Cam Talbot made 44 saves in Anaheim. Rittich has given up 17 goals on 149 shots (.886 save percentage) in his past five games, but owns a 22-15-5 record and .910 save percentage this season.
The Blackhawks and Flames have split the season series with the road team winning both times. Chicago beat Calgary 4-3 on New Year’s Eve behind Patrick Kane’s four-point effort to break a six-game winless streak (0-4-2) against the Flames. A week later, the Flames defeated the Blackhawks 2-1 behind Lindholm’s two-goal performance.
Tale of the Tape
48.7% (t-20th) — Corsi For — 50.0% (t-14th)
48.5% (26th) — Expected goals for — 50.4% (15th)
2.90 (t-18th) — Goals per game — 2.80 (t-21st)
2.89 (15th) — Goals against per game — 2.80 (12th)
14.3% (30th) — Power play — 20.7% (13th)
81.9% (10th) — Penalty kill — 81.6% (11th)
Kubalik — Toews — Caggiula
Saad — Carpenter — Kane
DeBrincat — Dach — Strome
Highmore — Kampf — Nylander
Keith — Boqvist
Murphy — Gustafsson
Maatta — Koekkoek
Gaudreau — Monahan — Lindholm
Mangiapane — Backlund — Tkachuk
Lucic — Ryan — Dube
Rinaldo — Jankowski — Bennett
Hanifin — Andersson
Brodie — Stone
Klyington — Davidson
How to watch
When: 9 p.m.
Where: Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary
TV: NBC Sports Chicago
Live stream: NBC Sports app, NHL.tv