Series (Game 1 of 1)

Chicago leads 1-0

Game 1: Sunday, December 13th

Lightning 0

(11-12-9, 31 pts)

Blackhawks 4

(20-8-3, 43 pts)

7:00 PM ET, December 13, 2009

United Center, Chicago, Illinois

1 2 3 T
TB 0 0 00
CHI 1 2 14

M. Hossa (Blackhawks - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

A. Niemi (Blackhawks - G): Saves: 18, Save Pct.: 1.000

C. Barker (Blackhawks - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 0

Lightning-Blackhawks Preview


Following another difficult night for his offense, Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville hinted that he will soon make more changes to his rotation.

It might not take much adjustment for the Blackhawks to get past the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday night.

Despite the recent addition of right winger Marian Hossa, Chicago (19-8-3) has 10 goals in seven games since a 7-2 victory in Hossa's debut Nov. 25 at San Jose. The play of goaltenders Cristobal Huet and Antti Niemi has helped the team salvage a 3-3-1 mark in that span.

The Blackhawks have only scored once in 5-on-5 action this month, Patrick Sharp's third-period goal in Friday night's 2-1 loss at Buffalo. They've also converted just four of their last 27 power-play opportunities.

They missed on three chances against the Sabres despite facing a winless goaltender, former Blackhawk Patrick Lalime, who hadn't played since Nov. 21 and was sporting an abysmal 4.55 goals-against average.

"We're not happy with our production," Quenneville said. "We're winning some tight games, but we should be scoring more, in 5-on-5 particular. The offense will be there. It's just a matter of maybe moving (players) around so that it clicks. ... Our production doesn't really reflect number or quality of chances we're getting."

Patrick Kane, leading Chicago with 29 points, has had plenty of opportunities with 31 shots in the past nine games, but he hasn't recorded a goal in any of those contests.

"I don't know if we've run into some hot goalies, but it's really frustrating right now," Kane said. "Hopefully, we can fix it soon."

A breakthrough for the Blackhawks and their leading scorer could come against the Lightning (11-11-9), losers of seven of eight overall and four straight on the road.

Chicago has scored five goals in each of its consecutive wins over Tampa Bay, including a 5-3 road victory in the teams' only meeting last season.

Kane tied that game early in the third period with the second of four unanswered goals for the Blackhawks, helping them overcome Lightning star center Steven Stamkos' only career hat trick.

After leaving the team's previous game with an upper-body injury, Stamkos returned to the lineup in Friday night's 2-1 shootout loss at Colorado, the start of a season-high six-game road trip.

"We do feel the pressure to win," center Vincent Lecavalier said. "The pressure is there, but it should be motivating. We need to get those big wins."

Like Kane, Stamkos is mired in a slump with one assist in the past seven games. He still leads the Lightning in goals (17) and is second with 30 points.

Ryan Malone, who has scored 16 times this season, has a goal and three assists in the last nine games.

The Lightning have averaged 1.6 goals since Nov. 28, and they could have another difficult matchup Sunday. Huet is 9-1-0 with a 1.86 GAA in 10 straight home starts and Niemi is 5-1-1 with a 1.71 GAA in seven games this season.

While Niemi has never faced the Lightning, Huet has been steady in winning nine of 12 career games against them with a 2.26 GAA.

Tampa Bay's goaltenders, meanwhile, have limited experience against Chicago. Mike Smith lost his only meeting on Oct. 31, 2007, for Dallas, and Antero Niittymaki got a 5-2 road win for Philadelphia on Jan. 11, 2006.

Chicago, 12-3-0 at the United Center this season, has won six of seven home matchups with Tampa Bay since Dec. 6, 1998.