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Blackhawks start 4-game homestand by facing Blue Jackets

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Chicago is 2-0-0 at home while Columbus is 1-2-1 on the road.

Andrew Shaw of the Chicago Blackhawks attempts a shot on goalie Elvis Merzlikins of the Columbus Blue Jackets
Andrew Shaw of the Chicago Blackhawks attempts a shot on goalie Elvis Merzlikins of the Columbus Blue Jackets
Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

The Blackhawks welcome the Blue Jackets Friday to the United Center for the first of a four game homestead. Both teams enter the matchup with multi-game point streaks.

After a 3-2 shootout win over the Florida Panthers Thursday night, the Columbus Blue Jackets (3-2-3) are temporarily in first place in the Central Division and riding a six-game point streak. Goaltending continues to be a strength for the Jackets as Elvis Merzlikins made 33 saves on 35 shots Thursday and Joonas Korpisalo has a .928 save percentage in four games. Korpisalo is expected to be in net Friday night and is 2-0-0 for his career against the Blackhawks.

The Blue Jackets are still without star left winger Patrik Laine after acquiring him in a blockbuster trade that sent top-line center Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Jets. Laine is stuck in Canada due to visa issues, but center Jack Roslovic — the Columbus native also included in the trade — made his debut with his new team Thursday against the Panthers. Roslovic has 8 points (4 G, 4 A) in 11 career games against the Blackhawks.

Another player to watch is Alexandre Texier — he became the default 1C after Dubois’ departure, is tied for the Jackets lead in points (6 points in 7 games), and scored the only shootout goal in the fourth round against the Panthers (and it was a beauty).

Although the Blackhawks are coming off a two-game sweep by the Nashville Predators, they did manage to extend their point streak to five games (2-0-3). This was primarily thanks to goaltenders Malcolm Subban and Kevin Lankinen having stellar back-to-back outings: .923 and .976 save percentage, respectfully. It’s unknown which Blackhawks goaltender will get the nod Friday. Lankinen has been the most consistent, having stopped 96 of the 100 shots he’s faced at even strength and allowed only 9 goals on 11 expected goals in all situations. Subban had a strong showing against the Predators on Tuesday with 36 saves, so the Blackhawks may want him to build upon that performance. Collin Delia also deserves another look at some point despite his sub .900 save percentage, and it’s been two weeks since his last start.

It’s important to note that the Blackhawks did improve defensively in the second game on Wednesday. Despite allowing over 50 shot attempts against, the Blackhawks limited the Predators to just 6 high-danger chances (which are based on location) through the first 2 periods and 11 total for the game. They also limited Nashville to just three scoring chances off the rush — strong suppression of the Predators’ transition game. Unfortunately, the Blackhawks offense wasn’t able to get going in either game, scoring only three goals in two games.

Lucas Wallmark was added to NHL’s COVID-19 Protocol list on Thursday, joining Adam Boqvist and Alex Debrincat. Hopefully this shortening of an already thin forward group doesn’t mean the Hawks will be deploying seven defensemen regularly - I’m not sure how long Patrick Kane can survive skating over 25 minutes a night.

PS. Over/under on Foley pronouncing Janmark’s name correctly tonight?

Tale of the tape (statistics from last season)

Blackhawks — Statistic — Blue Jackets

48.45% (22nd) — Corsi For — 49.11% (20th)

46.93% (27th) — Expected goals for — 51.92 (9th)

2.97 (18th) — Goals per game — 2.57 (27th)

3.06 (16th) — Goals against per game — 2.61 (3rd)

49.9% (17th) — Faceoffs — 48.5% (26th)

15.2% (28th) — Power play — 16.4% (27th)

82.1% (9th) — Penalty kill — 81.7% (12th)

Projected lineups (subject to change)

Blackhawks

Janmark — Suter — Kane

Kubalik — Strome — Kurashev

Highmore — Söderberg — Shaw

Hagel — Kampf — Carpenter

Keith — Carlsson

Zadorov — Murphy

de Haan — Mitchell

Lankinen/Subban

How to watch

When: 7 p.m.

Where: United Center, Chicago

TV: NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network

Live stream: NBC Sports app, NHL.TV