The Chicago Blackhawks begin a three-game trip through Ontario and Quebec on Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators as they continue the long road toward postseason relevance. Chicago is tied for last in the Central Division, seven points out of playoff position and must pass five teams to get there, but coach Jeremy Colliton isn't ready to wave the white flag.
"Our game over a long stretch of time is improved,'' Colliton told the media. "(It) doesn't mean we're a finished product, but if we keep getting better and the young players continue to develop, we can be in the race (for the playoffs). … We got five (games) before the break, we got to have a little push here." Ottawa has lost seven straight (0-4-3) after a 2-1 overtime setback to Montreal on Saturday. "We're going in the right direction, that's one thing I know," Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau told the reporters. "Everyone is on the same page and is playing the same way and that's a good thing. When you lose by one goal it means you're in every game." The Blackhawks have won five straight meetings after an 8-7 victory in last season's series finale featured Alex DeBrincat's fourth career hat trick and his only five-point game.
TIME: 7:30 p.m. ET. TV: NBCS Chicago, TSN5, RDS
ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (20-20-6): Rookie left wing Dominik Kubalik has scored five times during a four-game goal streak and boasts 16 this season. "Very happy with Kubalik's progression," Colliton told the media. "Does a lot of good things away from the puck that allow him to be in a situation to score. He's going to the net, being a shooter. Good to see." Jonathan Toews, who serves as Kubalik's center, has two goals and five assists in five January games.
ABOUT THE SENATORS (16-22-7): Anthony Duclair leads the club in goals (21) and points (32) but hasn't scored in seven games. Pageau - like Duclair - hasn't recorded a point in the last three contests and is stuck on 19 goals and 30 points. Brady Tkachuk has one point in his last seven games - his 14th goal - while defenseman Mark Borowiecki missed the last two contests because of illness.
1. Chicago RW Patrick Kane has teams highs of 24 goals and 57 points after recording four goals and six assists in his last six games, and is five points shy of 1,000.
2. Ottawa is 2-for-17 with the man advantage in the past six contests, raising the league's worst power-play percentage to 11.4.
3. Blackhawks C Dylan Strome (10 goals, 30 points) has missed the last two games with an ankle injury.
PREDICTION: Blackhawks 3, Senators 2