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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, January 11th (All times Eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (29-8-9) at Montreal Canadiens (25-15-5), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Blackhawks will try to avoid matching their longest losing streak of the season on Saturday, as the defending Stanley Cup champions visit the Montreal Canadiens for an Original Six clash at the Bell Centre.
The Blackhawks have lost their last two outings and both setbacks came on home ice. Chicago dropped a 3-2 shootout decision against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday before losing by the same score in regulation in Wednesday's tilt against the New York Rangers.
Chicago has lost three in a row on one occasion this season, going 0-2-1 from Dec. 3-5.
The Blackhawks overcame an early 2-0 deficit against the Rangers to even the score by the end of the second period. However, New York scored the lone goal of the third stanza, as Carl Hagelin tallied with 5:57 left to lead the Blueshirts to victory.
The regulation loss snapped Chicago's 10-game point streak (6-0-4) and dropped the Blackhawks to 1-1-2 so far in January. Jonathan Toews and Brandon Bollig scored for Chicago, while Corey Crawford made 29 saves in a losing cause.
"I think early in the game we didn't have that pace we were looking for," Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville remarked. "It took us a while to get going."
The Blackhawks are on the road for just one game before heading back to the Windy City on Sunday to face Edmonton at the start of a four-game homestand.
Montreal, meanwhile, has lost two of three and four of its last six games. The Canadiens dropped a 3-1 decision Wednesday in Philadelphia, giving the Habs seven straight regular-season losses in the City of Brotherly Love.
"We got out to another slow start like we did the first time around here," said Canadiens captain Brian Gionta when asked if his club had some kind of mental block in Philly. "We've got to find a way to get into our comfort level earlier and we just didn't find that right away."
Tomas Plekanec posted the lone offense for Montreal on Wednesday and Peter Budaj made 24 saves in the loss.
The Habs hope to get back in the win column tonight when they begin a two-game homestand. Montreal, which is 13-7-3 as the host this season, also hosts the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.
Saturday's tilt marks the first meeting between the Blackhawks and Canadiens since Dec. 21, 2011, when Chicago recorded a 5-1 home win. The Blackhawks have claimed two of three in this series overall, but Montreal has won five in a row and 12 of the past 15 encounters as the host.
01/11 10:30:18 ET