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Hockey is a Funny Game Like That: Blackhawks vs. Hurricanes Preview

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Will Chicago sleepwalk towards another win against the Central Division’s third-place team?

Carolina Hurricanes v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Thursday’s game at the United Center ends the second of a two-game installment — and the fifth game of the season — against the Hurricanes.

And, apparently, as the Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour so eloquently put it, Tuesday’s game was “kinda gross” and “weird.”

But never mind! Because the Blackhawks were able to end a two-game losing streak, lazily squeezing by with a 2-1 win on Tuesday. And coach Jeremy Colliton put our fears to rest because, as he said, and as we all know: “We need the points.”

Despite no pucks making it into the net during the first period of Tuesday’s game, Carolina outshot Chicago 9-1 just five minutes and change into the first period and 13-5 by the end. As Phil Thompson of the Chicago Tribune put it: “Seated behind the Hawks goalie at the United Center during the first and third periods, and it felt as if we had an up-close view of most of the first period from the Hawks’ end.” Clearly not a good sign.

Dylan Strome changed the score after a spoonful of seconds into the second period with a nice placement of the puck assisted by Kirby Dach by releasing the puck from a defenseman close to the boards. It was Strome’s sixth goal of the year, breaking a slump of 11 games where Strome had just one one goal and zero assists.

More action awaited the second period as Andrei Svechnikov scored Carolina’s only goal of the game.

Oh, did I forget to mention the third period? Sorry.

In the end, our hero Kevin Lankinen saved the day by amassing 31 saves while Alex Nedeljkovic had 14, and the Hurricanes outshoot the Hawks 32-16.

So what should we expect for Thursday’s rematch? As Strome aptly put it in a post game interview on Tuesday: “You’re not going to win too many games in the NHL where you only get 16 shots...Hockey is a funny game like that, but we’ll take the two points.” Do you see the fans laughing, or have the Blackhawks fans had enough of the team’s rhetoric of settling for points?

According to Carter Baum, in the second of two straight games against the same this season, Chicago is 11-4-2, and when they’ve taken a point or more in the first of the two match-ups, they haven’t been defeated in the second of two games at 7-0-1. So perhaps this will bode well for tonight’s game.

If anything, Thursday’s game will probably see another game-saving performance by goaltender Lankinen, who’s fifth in the league with an overall .921 save percentage. Colliton confirmed that’d again be starting in this one:

That same lineup means that Mike Hardman will not be making his debut after signing with the team on Tuesday. Hardman is jumping right in to his professional career by starting with the taxi squad this season.

Another stat worth noting: with his goal against Carolina on Tuesday, DeBrincat now has 106 career goals, which is three more than Patrick Kane had in his first four NHL seasons.

Let’s go Hawks!

Blackhawks — Statistic — Hurricanes

46.28% (29th) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 53.8% (4th)

45.52% (24th) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 55.36 (8th)

2.83 (16th) — Goals per game — 3.27 (8th)

3.11 (22nd) — Goals against per game — 2.52 (7th)

46.4% (28th) — Faceoffs — 54.3% (2nd)

27.4% (3rd) — Power play — 29.9% (1st)

74.1% (27th) — Penalty kill — 82.5% (8th)

Projected lineups (subject to change)

Blackhawks

DeBrincat — Suter — Kane

Kubalik — Kampf — Hagel

Janmark — Dach — Strome

Carpenter— Soderberg — Kurashev

Keith — Boqvist

Zadorov — Murphy

de Haan — Kalynuk

Lankinen

Subban

Hurricanes

Niederreiter — Aho — Necas

Svechnikov — Staal — Foegele

Martinook — Fast — McGinn

Lorentz — Paquette — Geekie

Hamilton — Slavin

Pesce — Skjei

Fleury — Bean

Nedeljkovic/Reimer

How to watch

When: 7 p.m. CT

Where: United Center

TV: NBC Sports Chicago

Live stream: NBC Sports app, NHL.TV