Streaking Blackhawks head to Long Island

( – The red-hot Chicago Blackhawks will try for a ninth
consecutive win Saturday against the New York Islanders, but they may have to
earn the road victory without the services of captain Jonathan Toews.

Toews suffered an upper-body injury in the second period of Thursday’s 3-2 win
in Boston after going face-first into the end boards following a check from
Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. Although Toews played on the ensuing 5-
on-3 power play, he left the game after that and did not return.

The star forward is questionable for tonight’s game, as Chicago has yet to
reveal the nature or severity of the injury. The 26-year-old Toews does have a
history of head injuries, missing time on three separate occasions due to
concussions during his career. He was able to make the trip to Long Island for
tonight’s game.

Seidenberg was whistled for a minor penalty on the play, but will not face
further discipline from the NHL.

A two-goal first period and 32 saves from Scott Darling propelled Chicago to
Thursday’s triumph in Beantown. Ben Smith had one of Chicago’s early goals and
set up the other — the first of Klas Dahlbeck’s NHL career — while Darling
outplayed reigning Vezina Trophy winner Tuukka Rask in the rookie’s sixth
career start.

Patrick Kane also tallied and Marcus Kruger recorded two assists for the
Blackhawks, who hung on for the victory after leading 3-0.

Chicago is on its longest winning streak since setting a franchise record with
11 consecutive wins from Feb. 15-March, 2013.

With No. 1 netminder Corey Crawford sidelined with a foot injury, Darling is
expected to make a fourth straight start in net tonight. The 25-year-old has
never faced the Islanders.

New York enters Saturday hoping to avoid its longest skid of what has been a
surprisingly successful season so far. Prior to dropping the last three games,
the Islanders had won 13 of their previous 15 outings.

The Isles lost three in a row from Oct. 28-Nov. 1, but haven’t fallen in four
straight since a five-game slide from Jan. 23-31 of last season.

All three setbacks on New York’s current skid have come in regulation and the
Isles have surrendered a total of 17 goals during that stretch. The Isles also
have tallied 11 goals of their own during the slide, but they clearly need to
shore up things in their own end to get back on the right track.

Two losses in this slide have come against the Blues, including a 6-3 setback
in St. Louis on Thursday. Alexander Steen had two goals and one assist to help
the Blues skate away with the victory.

John Tavares and Mikhail Grabovski scored in the second period for the
Islanders. Former Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak allowed five goals on 32

“We didn’t really grasp it.” said Tavares. “Sometimes we just have to make the
plays a little quicker.”

New York is hoping to return to the win column tonight when it begins a
stretch of four home tilts in five games. The Isles boast a 10-3-0 record at
Nassau Coliseum and had won seven straight as the host before losing last
Saturday against the Blues.

Josh Bailey sat out Thursday’s loss with a lower-body injury and the forward
is questionable for the Isles tonight.

Halak expects to start in net and he owns a 6-1-3 record and 2.07 goals
against average in 11 career games against Chicago.

The Blackhawks and Isles last met on Jan. 2 when New York halted a four-game
slide in the series with an overtime win at the Coliseum. Chicago has lost
four of its last five games on Long Island.

Former Chicago defenseman Nick Leddy will face his old team for the first time
on Saturday. Leddy was traded to the Isles right before the start of the
2014-15 season and has five goals and 14 points in 29 games for New York.