The Chicago Blackhawks have entered a challenging stretch of road games with plenty of confidence. Having a red-hot Patrick Kane as part of one of the league's most potent offenses helps.
The Blackhawks will try to maintain their Western Conference lead Saturday night with a sixth straight victory overall and second in four days over the host Minnesota Wild.
Chicago (31-10-3) has pulled two points ahead of San Jose in the West and holds a 10-point edge over Nashville in the Central Division. The Blackhawks have built those leads by winning 12 of 14 since Dec. 13, including four of five on the road.
They've also scored at least four goals in eight straight contests, and many of those have come in bunches. During its win streak, Chicago has opened up 5-0 leads in home wins over New Jersey and Anaheim, and broke open a tied game at St. Louis on Jan. 2 with four straight goals.
The past two games, the Blackhawks have used those scoring spurts to rally from early deficits. They allowed the first goal to Minnesota on Tuesday night before pulled away for a 4-1 victory, and spotted Boston two goals in the first 8:02 in Thursday night's 5-2 road win.
"We have a lot of confidence. I think a lot of that comes from just knowing the fact we have ... so many guys who can put the puck in the net," said defenseman Duncan Keith, who had two goals and an assist in the win. "I think that just gives us confidence, knowing that we can score some goals if we're down some."
Kane has aided that run with nine goals and seven assists over a career-high 10-game point streak.The right winger, who has reached 50 points, also has five goals and five assists during a eight-game road point streak.
The Blackhawks could use more production from their young star as they play nine of 11 away from home, including a season-high eight-game trip to conclude this month. He's scored a goal in each of Chicago's two home wins this season over the Wild (21-20-3), but hasn't recorded a point in four career games at the Xcel Energy Center.
In their first game at Minnesota this season, the Blackhawks will try for their third win in four games there since March 4, 2008, and will likely look to Cristobal Huet to start in net. Huet, who has won four straight, is 3-1-0 with a 1.26 goals-against average in his last four matchups with Minnesota and has limited the Wild to one goal in each win this season.
The Wild could counter with Niklas Backstrom, who is 3-3-0 with a 2.02 GAA lifetime against the Blackhawks. He has allowed three goals in each loss, including a 3-1 defeat in Chicago on Oct. 26.
However, Backstrom stopped 25 shots in a 4-1 victory Friday over visiting Calgary. The Wild had previously allowed at least four goals in each of their four consecutive defeats.
Eric Belanger also had a rare power-play goal for Minnesota, one of his two scores in the game. The Wild are 5 for 59 with a man advantage over the past 16 games.
"This is the closest we've been to putting our whole game together like we know we can," center Kyle Brodziak said.
Minnesota is 13-6-1 at home but has split its last six there.