October 26, 2014

The Chicago Blackhawks have gotten back into a groove after going through a rare scoring slump, but they're still having trouble keeping the puck out of their own net.

That's good news for an Ottawa Senators team in the midst of a rough patch.

Chicago seeks its sixth victory in eight tries Sunday night by dealing Ottawa its first seven-game road losing streak in over six years.

The Blackhawks (22-13-4) fell 4-0 to Western Conference-leading Dallas on Dec. 22 and returned from the holiday break with a 2-1 home loss to Carolina last Sunday, scoring only a meaningless goal with less than three seconds remaining.

They were much better in back-to-back road victories, beating Arizona 7-5 on Tuesday and Colorado 4-3 on Thursday, with Jonathan Toews scoring in overtime on New Year's Eve.

Toews' goal came on the power play, improving Chicago to 5 for 10 with the man advantage in those wins. It went 1 for 11 on the power play over the previous six.

Patrick Kane also had a goal and two assists in each contest and leads the NHL with 56 points.

"I thought we played great," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We gave up some stuff, but I thought we did some good things and generated some dangerous opportunities. We were much better."

The problem is that the Blackhawks had trouble putting both games away. They led Arizona by four in the third period before the Coyotes made it interesting with three in the final 20 minutes, and the Avalanche rallied from a two-goal hole to send it to OT.

Corey Crawford was in net for all five goals Tuesday before Scott Darling looked shaky at times Thursday.

"They get back in the game and you don't have a comfortable feeling," Quenneville said.

Chicago was the team rallying in the first meeting with Ottawa on Dec. 3. Mike Hoffman and Bobby Ryan scored in the first period before Kane and rookie Artemi Panarin tied it in the second.

Hoffman scored in overtime to give the Senators (18-14-6) as 4-3 victory in that contest and also added an assist, while Erik Karlsson chipped in three assists.

Ottawa could use another solid offensive performance after it fell 3-0 to New Jersey on Wednesday for its first shutout since a 2-0 loss to Pittsburgh on Oct. 15. It outshot the Devils 28-11 over the final two periods.

"It's tough, but I thought we played a pretty decent game," said forward Mark Stone, who scored in the first meeting with Chicago. "We got a lot of pucks to the net, but we didn't get a lot of traffic to the net. Their goalie didn't have to make enough high-quality saves."

The Senators have dropped four of five overall and are 0-5-1 on the road since Dec. 10, getting outscored 22-9 in that stretch. They haven't lost seven straight on the road since Oct. 29-Dec. 5, 2009.

Ottawa has lost all six trips to United Center since last winning there March 28, 2001. The Senators likely will have former Blackhawk and Chicago-area native Craig Anderson in net as they look to end that drought.

Anderson stopped 77 of 79 shots in his previous two starts before giving up each goal in a 7-3 loss to Boston on Tuesday. He made 35 saves in the first meeting but has a 3.11 goals-against average in five career starts in his hometown.

Crawford made 23 stops in the first matchup and is 2-0-1 in his career against the Senators.

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