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Blue Jackets, Blackhawks ache to stop lengthy losing streaks

Nov 16, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA;  Chicago Blackhawks forward Max Domi (13) prepares to take a face off against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. St. Louis defeated Chicago 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been well more than a week since the Columbus Blue Jackets won a game.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Blackhawks haven’t experienced victory in almost three weeks, and it’s been more than six weeks since their last home win.

With a combined 13 consecutive losses between them, the teams bringing up the rear in their respective conferences meet Friday night in Chicago.

Last in the Western Conference with an NHL-low 18 points, the Blackhawks have been outscored 35-9 during an eight-game overall losing streak. Each defeat has come by two or more goals, and they’ve scored more than twice in a game just once during the rut, which began Dec. 4 with a 3-0 loss at the New York Islanders.

Perhaps even more concerning for the rebuilding Blackhawks, who have dropped 16 of the last 17 overall, is that they’re 0-10-1 at home since a 2-1 overtime victory over Los Angeles on Nov. 3. Chicago actually held a 2-1 lead in the second period Wednesday against visiting Nashville but fell 4-2.

“Winning is hard, especially the way it’s going right now,” Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy said. “It takes a lot of focus and determination through the whole game to get over it.”

Chicago has won 12 of the last 17 versus Columbus. However, the Blue Jackets snapped a six-game slide to the Blackhawks with last season’s 7-4 win at Chicago in February.

Columbus, though, has dropped 11 of its last 14 games and been outscored 19-7 while losing five in a row following a 6-5 overtime victory over Los Angeles on Dec. 11. With Tuesday’s 5-3 defeat at Philadelphia, the Blue Jackets have also lost five straight on the road, where they are 2-9-1.

“(There are) little mistakes we make that end up in the back of our net right now,” Columbus defenseman Erik Gudbranson said. “It’s frustrating, but it’s part of the growth process for this group.”

The Blue Jackets have been hindered by injuries to key contributors like defenseman Zach Werenski (shoulder), forwards Jakub Voracek (concussion) and Boone Jenner (thumb), and goalie Joonas Korpisalo (lower body).

Fellow Columbus netminder Elvis Merzlikins was unable to face Philadelphia due to an illness. Daniil Tarasov made 34 saves in the contest and has a 2.84 goals-against average and .924 save percentage in his last six starts. Merzlikins, whose status remains uncertain, is 0-5-0 on the road with a 4.90 GAA.

Meanwhile, Chicago’s Alex Stalock (2.93 GAA) has been cleared to return from a concussion and could make his first start since Nov. 1. Teammate Petr Mrazek made 33 saves Wednesday but has allowed 14 goals during a three-game losing streak.

Blackhawks star Patrick Kane has a team-high 22 points this season, with just two in the last eight games. He’s recorded five goals with 16 assists during a 12-game home points streak versus Columbus. Ex-Blue Jacket Max Domi is second to Kane with 21 points, but he also has only two during Chicago’s eight-game skid.

Columbus’ own superstar Johnny Gaudreau has a team-leading 34 points. While with Calgary from 2013-22, Gaudreau posted nine goals and 17 assists in 20 career games versus Chicago.

–Field Level Media