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Sliding Blackhawks in need of a spark against Flames

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Chicago hopes to end a season-long five-game winless streak.

Chicago Blackhawks v Calgary Flames Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images

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.

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.

Season series

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

Blackhawks — Statistic — Flames

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)

Projected lineups

Blackhawks

Kubalik — Toews — Caggiula

Saad — Carpenter — Kane

DeBrincat — Dach — Strome

Highmore — Kampf — Nylander

Keith — Boqvist

Murphy — Gustafsson

Maatta — Koekkoek

Lehner

Crawford

Flames

GaudreauMonahan — Lindholm

Mangiapane — Backlund — Tkachuk

Lucic — Ryan — Dube

Rinaldo — Jankowski — Bennett

Hanifin — Andersson

Brodie — Stone

Klyington — Davidson

Rittich

Talbot

How to watch

When: 9 p.m.

Where: Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary

TV: NBC Sports Chicago

Live stream: NBC Sports app, NHL.tv