Rangers visit Blackhawks, seek seventh straight win

CHICAGO -- The New York Rangers will try to extend their six-game winning streak when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night at the United Center.

New York (9-7-2) has outscored opponents 26-16 during its streak, which has included two overtime wins on the road and four regulation wins on home ice. A dynamic offensive attack has powered the Rangers, who have scored at least four goals in seven of their past eight contests.

As the Rangers surge, Chicago (8-8-2) is looking to break out of a slump. The Blackhawks have lost three of their past four games and squandered a three-goal lead in their most recent contest.

Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford will look to bounce back after allowing six goals in two periods Sunday night against the New Jersey Devils. He was replaced by Anton Forsberg in the third period.

Crawford is 7-7-0 with a 2.21 goals-against average and .932 save percentage on the season. In six career games against the Rangers, he is 2-3-1 with a 2.37 GAA and .921 save percentage.

New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is likely to start opposite Crawford. The 35-year-old has posted an 8-4-2 record with a 2.92 GAA and .905 save percentage this season. In 10 career games against Chicago, he is 6-2-2 with a 2.19 GAA

The Rangers are led in scoring by Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich, who have eight goals apiece. Zibanejad is in a five-game scoring drought, while Buchnevich has scored in three straight.

Yet the Rangers' consistency away from the puck has prompted the hot streak, players say.

"Our speed is our strength, but we can only use that when we play well without the puck in our own zone," Rangers right winger Rick Nash told the New York Post. "We've been OK since we realized that we needed to keep it simple and follow the plan. That's something we need to continue to reinforce."

Chicago is led in scoring by Brandon Said, who has seven goals. Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat and Artem Anisimov have six goals apiece. Several other players including Ryan Hartman have been mired in recent slumps.

Hartman hopes to return to the lineup against the Rangers after sitting out the previous game as a healthy scratch. He has four goals and six assists this season but has one goal in his past 10 games.

"Any time your team's struggling, I think everyone kind of grips the stick too hard," Hartman told the Chicago Sun-Times. "Everyone's trying to produce when teams aren't producing.

"My game's always been playing the corners, play hard and the goals and points will come, so maybe I was thinking a little too much offensively and not enough about playing hard in the corners and taking the body and stuff like that. I'm looking to bring that when I come back."

This marks the first of two meetings during the regular season. The Blackhawks will travel to Madison Square Garden on Jan. 3 to complete the series.
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