While the usually high-scoring Chicago Blackhawks haven’t been generating much offense, they managed to get by the Ottawa Senators last weekend.
The slumping Blackhawks hit the road looking to continue their recent success against the Senators on Thursday night.
Chicago (5-3-1) picked up nine points in its first five games before scoring six goals during a 1-3-0 stretch. The Blackhawks couldn’t get any of their 38 shots past Anaheim’s John Gibson in a 1-0 loss Tuesday.
“There are too many skill players, too many offensive guys in this locker room to have it carry on, but it’s not going to get any easier — it’s got to come from this room,” forward Patrick Sharp said. “We have to understand how to score goals, you have to get to the net, score the ugly ones and then everything else will open up.”
Sharp leads the team with eight points, but he’s come up empty in back-to-back games. Captain Jonathan Toews has one point in the last four. Chicago ranks in the bottom-third of the league with 2.3 goals per game after finishing second in each of the previous two seasons.
While the Blackhawks haven’t been able to find the back of the net with much consistency, coach Joel Quenneville doesn’t appear too concerned. Chicago has outshot opponents 342-243 for the NHL’s second-largest differential.
“We’re getting shots, we’re getting chances,” Quenneville said. “Production has been down, but we’re playing the right way. So I don’t want to change too much. … We feel it’s just a matter of time.”
The Blackhawks pulled out a 2-1 win over Ottawa on Sunday thanks in large part to Scott Darling, who made 32 saves in his NHL debut. The rookie also stopped 24 shots against the Ducks, but Corey Crawford could be back in net Thursday after missing five games with an upper-body injury.
Crawford has gone 2-0-0 with a 1.92 goals-against average against a Senators team that’s dropped nine of 12 in the series.
Ottawa (5-2-1) returns home following Tuesday’s 5-2 victory at Columbus, its first win in three games. Clarke MacArthur had two goals and an assist while Erik Karlsson added one of each. Robin Lehner made 36 saves, improving to 3-0-1 with a 2.18 GAA.
“I thought the players took charge of it and did a real good job,” coach Paul MacLean said. “Our leadership group stepped up tonight on the road to make sure we went home with some points.”
The Senators are allowing 36.2 shots per game, the NHL’s second-worst mark.
This could be a special night for Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa, who needs two points to reach 1,000 for his career. He could achieve the milestone against the franchise that drafted him in 1997 and in the city where he spent his first seven seasons. Hossa has 19 assists and 26 points in 18 games against his former team.
“He’s got a chance to do it against the team that drafted him,” Sharp said of Hossa. “It’s funny how things come full circle like that.”
Chicago is tied for the league lead with a 1.67 GAA and has killed all but two of 26 penalties. The Blackhawks are 3-10-1 over their last 14 regular-season road games dating to February.