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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, January 17th (All times Eastern)

Anaheim Ducks (36-8-5) at Chicago Blackhawks (30-8-11), 8 p.m.

(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 10:46:09 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
DUKE 47
TULA 13
Final
ECU 70
UNC 41
 
3rd
TOWSN 24
NCCU 20
 
3rd
NCSU 28
PRES 0
 
Final
KAN 2
DET 3
Final
CHC 8
LOS 7
Final
OAK 0
PHI 3
Final
NYY 3
TOR 6
Final
COL 5
ARI 1
3rd
BAL 0
BOS 2
 
3rd
PIT 0
MIL 0
 
4th
TAM 2
CWS 0
 
7:10pm Tonight
MIN 0
CLE 0
3rd
ATL 0
NYM 3
 
3rd
HOU 5
SEA 1
 
4th
MIA 1
WAS 0
 
4th
STL 5
CIN 0
 
8:40pm Tonight
SDP
SFG
9:05pm Tonight
ANA
TEX
Final
WISC 68
BGU 17
Final
MSU 73
EMICH 14
Final
VT 24
GT 27
Final
PITT 20
IOWA 24
Final
RICE 42
ODU 45
Final
UGA 66
TROY 0
Final
SYR 20
MD 34
Final
DUKE 47
TULA 13
Final
COL 21
HAW 12
Final
AKR 17
MARS 48
 
Final
WAKE 24
ARMY 21
Final
KU 24
CMICH 10
Final
ALA 42
UF 21
Final
FIU 3
LOU 34
 
Final
ECU 70
UNC 41
 
Final
NAVY 24
RUTG 31
Final
SMU 6
TEXAM 58
3:30pm Today
MICH 10
UTAH 26
Final
BYU 41
UVA 33
Final
WYO 20
FATL 19
 
Final
MIZZ 27
IND 31
 
Final
PSU 48
UMASS 7
 
Final
MINN 24
SJST 7
 
3rd
ILL 25
TXST 21
 
3rd
WASH 7
GASTATE 14
 
2nd
SMISS 14
APPST 7
 
7:00pm Tonight
TOL 6
BST 0
2nd
OHIO 17
IDAHO 0
 
2nd
CIN 7
UMO 14
 
2nd
MEM 12
MTST 7
 
2nd
LSU 0
MSST 17
 
2nd
ARK 21
NILL 0
 
2nd
ARKST 0
UTST 7
 
1st
SALABAMA 0
GASO 0
 
1st
WVU 0
OKLA 3
 
1st
VANDY 7
SCAR 0
 
8:00pm Tonight
FSU
CLEM
8:00pm Tonight
NEB
MIAMI
8:00pm Tonight
NMST
NMU
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
UNLV
10:00pm Tonight
ARZ
CAL
10:30pm Tonight
BSU
LALAF
10:30pm Tonight
WASU
OREG
10:30pm Tonight
ORST
SDST
3rd
TOWSN 24
NCCU 20
 
3rd
NCSU 28
PRES 0