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Ducks-Blackhawks Preview

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After unsuccessfully fighting — literally — to keep their winning streak alive, things may not get any easier for the Anaheim Ducks on their upcoming road trip.

The Ducks begin a four-game swing against Central Division opponents Tuesday night as they face the Chicago Blackhawks, who could have Corey Crawford back in net.

Anaheim (7-2-0) had won seven straight but couldn’t get much going in a 4-1 loss to San Jose on Sunday. The Ducks allowed the first four goals before Matt Beleskey scored on the power play with just over five minutes remaining in the third.

“The whole game was pretty deflating for us,” said captain Ryan Getzlaf, who had an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the second before being sent off for fighting with 3:06 left in the game. “We’ve been playing pretty good hockey as of late, and you’re going to play one of these kinds of games once in a while.”

The contest was chippy, with the clubs combining for 165 penalty minutes — 90 for the Ducks.

“We weren’t ready from the beginning,” goaltender Frederik Andersen said. “That’s just not good enough. We got the two points the last seven games, but I think we started thinking it was probably a little bit too easy.”

The Ducks will have to play without defenseman Ben Lovejoy for six to eight weeks after he broke a finger on his right hand while punching San Jose’s Joe Pavelski on Sunday.

Anaheim’s road trip may prove to be anything but simple, as the Ducks face St. Louis on Thursday, Dallas on Friday and Colorado on Sunday.

First up is a Chicago team that improved to 4-0-1 at the United Center with Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Ottawa.

The Blackhawks (5-2-1) snapped a two-game skid on goals from Jonathan Toews and Brent Seabrook in the second period. Chicago scored during that 20-minute segment for the first time this season.

“I thought it was our best four-line rotation of the year,” coach Joel Quenneville said.

Patrick Kane recorded his 500th career point with an assist on Toews’ goal.

“I didn’t really even think about it,” Kane said. “It’s just a number to be honest with you, so hopefully there’s many more to come. It’s a pretty cool milestone. I’ll remember this one for sure.”

Antti Raanta had started the previous three contests with Crawford nursing an upper-body injury before Chicago-area native Scott Darling made his NHL debut with a 32-save effort against the Senators.

“We needed him early in the game, and he was settled down, patient,” Quenneville said. “He controlled his rebounds, handled the puck well.”

Scott Darling will start in net, for Chicago, following his victory on Sunday against Ottawa.

Andersen had won 10 straight regular-season starts — six this season — with a 1.77 GAA prior to the loss to the Sharks. He has yet to face Chicago.

Anaheim had a five-game winning streak against the Blackhawks before dropping the final two meetings of last season. Crawford, 7-4-1 with a 1.97 GAA as a starter against the Ducks, made 29 saves in a 2-0 road victory in the last matchup Feb. 5.

*Photo courtesy of Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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