Resurgent Blackhawks visit Maple Leafs

The Chicago Blackhawks will try to extend their winning streak to four games when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.

After playing the NHL's toughest schedule over the first 42 games, the Blackhawks have won four of six games against mostly lesser teams.

While losses during the recent stretch have been to the Nashville Predators and Calgary Flames, Chicago visits Toronto coming off a 4-1 road win Wednesday over the Montreal Canadiens.

"We're never satisfied, but I think we did a decent job," Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said of the six-game stretch. "Would have loved to get at least one of those games (against) Calgary and Nashville, but we're moving in the right direction, finding a way to scratch points together. We've still got lots of room to improve, but we'll get a little healthier soon and that'll help."

The Maple Leafs lost 2-1 at home to Calgary in a shootout Thursday, when Flames goaltender David Rittich (35 saves) was the difference.

Toronto is 1-2-2 in its past five games.

"I liked the way we found a way to tie the game," Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. "That's a big point for us down in the third period, a big power-play goal, we really needed it. We could have used one in the second there or earlier in the game but obviously we'll take that. We generated a number of chances that, on another night, are going to go in for us. Their goaltender was very good."

It was the first time since a 4-2 loss at Calgary on Dec. 12 that the Maple Leafs had been held to fewer than three goals. They had scored at least three times in 14 straight games.

"Some of the luck didn't go our way," Keefe said. "Sometimes these things are going to happen. I liked, though, that within all that, we didn't lose our defensive structure very often and then there's some things we'd like to do a little bit better job of in our own zone. But for the most part I thought it was pretty solid effort for us defensively and we just couldn't get one to go in for us there."

Toronto right winger Mitch Marner had his eight-game points streak (three goals, eight assists) end Thursday. In the third period, left winger Andreas Johnsson was moved to the line with Marner and Auston Matthews with left winger Zach Hyman shifted with center John Tavares and William Nylander.

"I just tried to change the chemistry a little bit and tried to get some different looks," Keefe said.

Chicago goalie Corey Crawford played well Wednesday, making 32 saves in his hometown.

Robin Lehner started Tuesday in the 3-2 overtime win against his former Ottawa Senators team. Lehner missed three starts last week with an injury, but other than that stretch, he has started eight of the past 10 games when both goaltenders were available.

Blackhawks right winger Patrick Kane is on an eight-game points streak (four goals, nine assists) and needs two points to reach 1,000 for his career.

"It might not be pretty all the time, but we're finding ways to stay in the game and control the game," Kane said.

--Field Level Media
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