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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
NCCU 108
BASC 52
 
Final
CHA 106
PHO 111
Final
NCSU 83
TENN 72
Final
CLE 98
ATL 127
Final
CHA 106
PHO 111
Final
DET 106
DAL 117
Final
BOS 109
ORL 92
Final
MIA 87
UTA 105
Final
TOR 105
BRK 89
2nd OT
SAN 104
MEM 106
 
Half
POR 43
MIL 41
 
2nd
DEN 41
HOU 32
 
2nd
LAC 39
IND 39
 
Final
UNT 78
LANG 65
 
Final
Terriers 64
DELST 72
 
Final
MSST 55
ARKST 69
Final
NCCU 108
BASC 52
 
Final
GMAS 99
CATAWBA 69
 
Final
WOFF 64
CSOU 58
 
Final
HIGH 106
FERR 48
 
Final
JVU 68
GWEBB 65
 
Final
ILL 73
HAMP 55
 
Final
BST 52
JMU 72
 
Final
YOUNG 84
KNST 90
 
Final
UMO 71
LONG 60
 
Final
PITT 65
MAN 56
Final
OSU 97
NCAT 55
Final
FSU 93
UNF 77
 
Final
TOL 83
RMU 57
 
Final
CAMP 70
SIUE 65
 
Final
DUQ 52
RFLSH 67
 
Final
NCSU 83
TENN 72
Final
UCF 75
DET 70
Final
UNCW 73
LIB 70
 
Final
LOYC 83
ABCHRIST 44
 
Final
MURST 94
ALCOR 56
 
Final
HOU 56
ARKPB 61
 
Final
NW 67
CMICH 80
Final
WKENT 75
CHIST 60
 
Final
ODU 58
UGST 54
Final
SMU 67
ILLCH 46
Final
LALAF 115
MLGN 76
 
Final
TULSA 74
MIZST 70
Final
UWGB 66
MORE 50
 
Final
NEOM 92
NCOL 82
 
Final
TTU 101
SCST 39
 
Final
DEN 83
TAMCC 73
 
Final
STEPH 66
TXST 60
 
Final
STLU 75
TXPA 69
 
Final
MEM 83
USCU 73
 
Final
ILLST 64
TENNM 54
 
Final
MSU 66
EMICH 46
 
Final
GRCN 80
INCWORD 82
 
Final
STAN 67
LMU 58
Final
BAY 66
NMST 55
 
1st OT
CIN 64
SDST 60
 
Final
AUB 80
WINT 62
 
2nd
NMU 50
CARK 41
 
2nd
PEPP 36
HOW 27
 
2nd
CPSL 40
NE 45
 
1st
UNLV 26
PORT 29
 
1st
OREG 6
CSNO 8
 
1st
WASH 17
GRAM 3
 
Final
NJD 0
OTT 2
Final
MIN 2
BOS 3
2nd
VAN 0
DAL 1