Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Washington Capitals tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.
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Five Things to Watch:
1. A pair of winning streaks on the line.
In what could be an early preview of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, the Blackhawks and Capitals are putting their winning streaks on the line when they clash for the final time in the regular season. Both teams have had multiple winning streaks of at least four games this year, with the Blackhawks hitting winning streaks of 7, 5 and now 4 and counting. The Capitals, who have had winning streaks of 5, 6 and now 7 and counting, own a plus-16 goal differential over their last seven games. It should be an entertaining one at Verizon Center between the best in the West, and a Capitals team that could take over the No. 1 spot in the Eastern with a win and Columbus Blue Jackets loss.
2. Corey Crawford vs. Braden Holtby.
Two of the best goaltenders in the world will go head-to-head for the second time this season. Holtby, who stopped 32 of 34 shots (.941 save percentage) and earned the victory in the first meeting, is 20-8-4 with a 1.90 goals against average, .932 save percentage and is tied for the league lead with five shutouts in 33 games. Crawford, who turned aside 24 of 27 shots (.889 save percentage) in the loss on Nov. 11, owns a 16-8-3 record with a 2.35 goals against average, .925 save percentage and three shutouts in 27 games. Both of them are among the top-four in save percentage during even-strength play, with Crawford at .946 and Holtby at .944. Expect these two names to be in the Vezina Trophy conversation at season's end, an award that recognizes the league's top goaltender.
3. Artemi Panarin and Alex Ovechkin from the left circle.
Russian wingers Panarin and Ovechkin have made a living burying one-timers from the left faceoff circle, particularly on the power play. They're lethal from that spot, and are two of the most dangerous snipers in the game. If and when the Blackhawks and Capitals get a power-play opportunity, you know where to find those too. And yet, it's still so difficult for goaltenders to stop, even when you know it's coming.
4. Beware the Beagle.
In the first meeting in Chicago, Jay Beagle scored two goals in a 3-2 overtime win for the Capitals in only 9:59 of ice time, which was — and still is — the second-fewest minutes he's played in 41 games this season. He also has just six goals this year, so one-third of them came in that contest against the Blackhawks. While he's not known for being a scorer, Beagle is five points away from matching his career-high of 20 points, set in 2014-15. This is the deepest Capitals team they've had in years, and any of the four lines can contribute offensively, including Beagle.
5. Patrick Kane's climb in the scoring race.
Here comes the reigning Hart and Art Ross Trophy winner. Kane has eight points (one goal and seven assists) in his last four games, and has jumped to second in the NHL with 45 points. He trails Connor McDavid by five for the league lead. The last player to win back-to-back scoring titles was Jaromir Jagr, when he won four straight from 1998-2001. Kane is putting himself in great position to win it again.
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