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Blackhawks host showdown with NHL-leading Ducks

(SportsNetwork.com) - It hasn't been too often this season that the Chicago Blackhawks have been viewed as the underdog.

The defending champions, though, certainly have their work cut out for them on Friday night when they host the NHL-leading Anaheim Ducks in a matchup that is sure to have the energy of a postseason bout.

After having captured their second Stanley Cup title in four seasons last year, the Blackhawks are once again right in the thick of contention. They lead the Central Division with 71 points, two ahead of the St. Louis Blues.

However, Chicago is six points behind red-hot Anaheim, which tops the NHL and Pacific Division with 77 points. The Ducks, winners in eight straight and 18 of their last 19 games, own an 11-point lead over the second-place San Jose Sharks in the division.

That makes this meeting, the second between the clubs this season, a possible Western Conference finals preview and Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford is anticipating a playoff-like atmosphere.

"They've been on a roll lately. They have been scoring a lot of goals so it's a good challenge for us," said Crawford of the Ducks.

"We're aware of where they are (in the standings), how they've been playing and what kind of streak they're on, but on ice it's more about our team and how we're playing other than trying to counter whatever they're doing. We want to make the pace and we want to be the ones to get it going and not wait for them to start out and try to react to them."

Chicago hopes it isn't reacting to Anaheim constantly lighting the goal lamp. The Ducks are coming off a record-setting 9-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks as they joined the 1967-68 Montreal Canadiens as the only teams to win 18 games over a 19-game span.

The Ducks set franchise single-game records with nine goals and six on the power play. Teemu Selanne, Corey Perry and Nick Bonino each scored twice, while Perry added two assists. Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf returned to the lineup after missing the last game with a lower-body injury. He collected two assists, including the 400th of his career.

Anaheim has scored at least four goals in seven of its last eight games and is third in the NHL with 3.43 goals per game. Chicago leads the league with 3.53 goals per game.

Anaheim won its 10th straight at home and remains the only club to have not lost in regulation as the hosting team this season, going 20-0-2.

Frederik Andersen got the start in net for an ill Jonas Hiller and made 31 saves for the Ducks, who also visit St. Louis on Saturday.

"You just approach every game and play. You have to prepare yourself and have a game plan. And if you execute it, you have a good chance of winning," said Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano. "Tonight, we did that. Freddy (Andersen) made some good stops in the first period that kept us in the game. We were able to get a bunch of goals."

The flu prevented Hiller from trying to stretch his club-record winning streak to 15 straight games. It is unknown if he will be able to play tonight or if Andersen will face the Blackhawks for the first time.

Hiller, the first goaltender to win 14 straight starts since Pittsburgh's Tom Barrasso from March 9-April 9, 1993, is 10-4-2 with a 2.27 goals against average in 17 career meetings with the Blackhawks. That includes 23 saves in a 3-2 shootout win in Chicago on Dec. 6.

Kyle Palmieri had the winner in the shootout and both Getzlaf and Perry had goals in the Ducks' fifth straight win over the Blackhawks.

Antti Raanta made 24 saves for the 'Hawks, who have lost three straight and five of their last eight at home to the Ducks.

Crawford will start tonight and is 5-4-1 with a 2.22 GAA in his career versus the Ducks. However, he is winless since Nov. 29, dropping back-to-back games before suffering a lower-body injury in a game versus Florida on Dec. 8.

Crawford returned to action on Jan. 2, but has gone 0-1-4 in five starts since. He made 23 saves in Tuesday's 3-2 overtime setback to the Colorado Avalanche.

The Blackhawks fell to 1-1-3 in their last five games, though they did battle back from 2-0 down in the first period to earn a point. Johnny Oduya and Andrew Shaw had goals, with Brandon Saad assisting on both tallies.

Chicago fell to 0-5 in overtime this season.

01/17 10:46:32 ET

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Schedule

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Standings

2013 - 2014 NHL Eastern Conference Standings
 
Atlantic Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
p-Boston 54 19 9 117 261 177 31-7-3 23-12-6 18-9-3
x-Tampa Bay 46 27 9 101 240 215 25-10-6 21-17-3 19-8-3
x-Montreal 46 28 8 100 215 204 23-13-5 23-15-3 18-8-4
x-Detroit 39 28 15 93 222 230 18-13-10 21-15-5 17-8-5
Ottawa 37 31 14 88 236 265 18-17-6 19-14-8 14-9-7
Toronto 38 36 8 84 231 256 24-16-1 14-20-7 14-13-3
Florida 29 45 8 66 196 268 16-20-5 13-25-3 13-16-1
Buffalo 21 51 10 52 157 248 13-21-7 8-30-3 7-18-5
 
Metropolitan Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Pittsburgh 51 24 7 109 249 207 28-9-4 23-15-3 20-8-2
x-NY Rangers 45 31 6 96 218 193 20-17-4 25-14-2 16-11-3
x-Philadelphia 42 30 10 94 236 235 24-14-3 18-16-7 15-11-4
x-Columbus 43 32 7 93 231 216 22-15-4 21-17-3 16-13-1
Washington 38 30 14 90 235 240 21-13-7 17-17-7 12-15-3
New Jersey 35 29 18 88 197 208 21-11-9 14-18-9 16-9-5
Carolina 36 35 11 83 207 230 18-17-6 18-18-5 15-13-2
NY Islanders 34 37 11 79 225 267 13-19-9 21-18-2 10-16-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
2013 - 2014 NHL Western Conference Standings
 
Central Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Colorado 52 22 8 112 250 220 26-11-4 26-11-4 19-6-3
x-St. Louis 52 23 7 111 248 191 28-9-4 24-14-3 21-6-2
x-Chicago 46 21 15 107 267 220 27-7-7 19-14-8 13-13-3
x-Minnesota 43 27 12 98 207 206 26-10-5 17-17-7 14-12-3
x-Dallas 40 31 11 91 235 228 23-11-7 17-20-4 13-11-5
Nashville 38 32 12 88 216 242 19-17-5 19-15-7 12-13-4
Winnipeg 37 35 10 84 227 237 18-17-6 19-18-4 9-15-5
 
Pacific Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
z-Anaheim 54 20 8 116 266 209 29-8-4 25-12-4 22-4-3
x-San Jose 51 22 9 111 249 200 29-7-5 22-15-4 18-7-3
x-Los Angeles 46 28 8 100 206 174 23-14-4 23-14-4 16-10-3
Phoenix 37 30 15 89 216 231 22-14-5 15-16-10 14-9-6
Vancouver 36 35 11 83 196 223 20-15-6 16-20-5 12-13-4
Calgary 35 40 7 77 209 241 19-19-3 16-21-4 11-15-3
Edmonton 29 44 9 67 203 270 16-22-3 13-22-6 8-17-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
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    Today at 11:00 am on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
Final
CHR 2
DUR 9
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
CHI
 
7:05pm Tonight
DUR
NOR
 
7:05pm Tuesday
PHI 0
ATL 0
7:05pm Tuesday
NYY 0
CHC 0
7:05pm Tuesday
BAL 0
TAM 0
7:08pm Tuesday
DET 0
CLE 0
Final
CIN 7
PIT 5
Final
MIA 11
WAS 2
Final
TEX 5
SEA 0
Final
CWS 2
BOS 1
Final
HOU 2
KAN 4
Final
MIL 1
STL 6
Final
MIN 3
TOR 9
Final
ARI 0
NYM 9
Final
ANA 9
OAK 10
Final
SDP 2
COL 3
Final
SFG 3
LOS 2
12:35pm Today
CIN
PIT
12:35pm Today
BAL
TAM
 
1:05pm Today
NYY
CHC
 
1:10pm Today
MIL
STL
 
3:40pm Today
ARI
NYM
 
7:05pm Tonight
PHI
ATL
 
7:05pm Tonight
NYY
CHC
 
7:08pm Tonight
DET
CLE
 
7:10pm Tonight
MIA
WAS
 
8:05pm Tonight
TEX
SEA
 
8:10pm Tonight
CWS
BOS
 
8:10pm Tonight
HOU
KAN
 
8:10pm Tonight
MIN
TOR
 
10:05pm Tonight
ANA
OAK
 
10:10pm Tonight
SDP
COL
 
10:15pm Tonight
SFG
LOS
 
Final
BRK 98
NYK 109
Final
LAC 117
DEN 105
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
CHI
 
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
IND
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIL
ATL
 
8:00pm Tonight
CLE
BRK
 
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
DAL
 
8:00pm Tonight
OKC
DET
 
8:00pm Tonight
NOP
HOU
 
8:00pm Tonight
SAN
LAL
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIA
PHI
 
8:00pm Tonight
NYK
TOR
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
UTA
 
8:00pm Tonight
BOS
WAS
 
10:30pm Tonight
DEN
GSW
 
10:30pm Tonight
POR
LAC
 
10:30pm Tonight
SAC
PHO
 
7:00pm Tonight
TAM
MON
7:30pm Tonight
PIT
CLB
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
DAL
Final
CHR 2
DUR 9
 
7:05pm Tonight
DUR
NOR