Jets-Blackhawks Preview - NBC Sports

Jets-Blackhawks Preview
December 22, 2014, 10:45 am

As the Chicago Blackhawks look to continue surging at home, their hearts remain heavy following the sudden passing of a popular member of the organization.

Playing through their grief, the Blackhawks try to win nine straight home games for the second time in three seasons Tuesday night against the Winnipeg Jets.

Hours after learning of the death of 34-year-old assistant equipment manager Clint Reif, Patrick Kane had a goal with two assists, Patrick Sharp added three assists and backup Antti Raanta made 31 saves in Sunday's 4-0 home victory over Toronto.

In his ninth season with the Blackhawks (23-9-2), Reif was found unresponsive in his home Sunday morning. He was with the team Saturday night for their 3-2 shootout loss at Columbus.

"It's not every day that you have to go through something like that," defenseman Duncan Keith, a close friend of Reif, told the Blackhawks' official website.

As the organization continues to process the situation, the players feel as if they've lost one of their own.

"(Reif) was just a selfless person," said captain Jonathan Toews, who has four goals and seven assists during a six-game home point streak. "He was never thinking about himself, (always) thinking about how he could help others. He's part of our team. He might as well have been wearing one of these sweaters."

With Reif on their mind, the Blackhawks won for the 16th time in 20 games and improved to 12-3-1 at the United Center.

In its last eight home contests, Chicago owns a 33-14 goal advantage, has a power-play goal in four straight and killed 22 of 24 penalties. The Blackhawks won nine straight during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.

Kane has four goals with six assists during a six-game overall point streak, and five with eight while also recording at least a point in six straight at home

Raanta, who recorded his third career shutout, has a 1.60 goals-against average during a five-game winning streak - all at home - but it's uncertain if he'll make his first appearance against the Jets (17-10-7) with Corey Crawford back from missing eight games with a leg injury.

Crawford, who made 17 saves in his return Saturday, stopped 44 of 47 shots while Chicago dropped the last two at home versus Winnipeg. Former Blackhawk Michael Frolik scored on Crawford 20 seconds into the Jets' 1-0 road win Nov. 2, the lone matchup this season.

Winnipeg got 33 saves from backup Michael Hutchinson, who has a 1.39 GAA during a 4-0-2 road span beginning with that contest.

The Jets are amid a 3-0-3 road stretch, but look to bounce back after blowing a two-goal lead in Sunday's 4-3 overtime home defeat to Philadelphia. It was the second game Winnipeg played without Mark Stuart (lower-body injury), who joins other injured defensemen Jacob Trouba, Zach Bogosian and Toby Enstrom. All of whom likely won't return until next month.

"We're just starting this process," Jets coach Paul Maurice said of dealing with another injury along the blue line.

"It will be a great test (Tuesday). If you kick the puck into the neutral zone on Chicago all night, they're going to get too many chances."

Ex-Blackhawk Dustin Byfuglien moved back to his natural defenseman position and recorded first goal in six games. He has none in four games at the United Center as a visitor.

Teammate Mathieu Perreault has a goal in two straight contests and three with four assists during a seven-game point streak.

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