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The surging Chicago Blackhawks struggle yearly on their extended circus road trip. They're hoping rookies Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews can help them change that this time.
The Blackhawks open their six-game trip Wednesday night looking for their fourth straight win when they face the slumping Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Blackhawks (10-7-0) are 4-17-2 over the last four seasons during the annual November trip that's caused by the circus taking over the United Center.
Chicago hopes its recent success, spurred by outstanding play from Kane and Toews, will carry over as it tries to avoid another poor result on the trip this year. The Blackhawks pushed their win streak to three Sunday with a 3-2 victory over Western Conference leader Detroit before hitting the road until Nov. 28.
Kane netted a power-play goal in the first period and assisted on Toews' in the second en route to Chicago's fifth victory in six games.
"It's always a confidence builder to beat a team like that," the 19-year-old Toews said. "We all knew how big a game this was for our team and our club on and off the ice.
"We just knew if we wanted to win, we had to go out and have a great start and keep doing things we've done the last week or so."
The Blackhawks, winners of four of their last five road games, last won four in a row overall from March 30-April 5, their longest run of last season.
They started the current streak with a 5-2 victory over Columbus (8-6-3) last Wednesday, as Toews registered his first multipoint game with a goal and an assist.
Toews, the third overall selection in the 2006 draft, is tied with Kane for the team lead with seven goals and has a point in 13 of 15 games.
Kane, who will turn 19 during the road trip, has a team-high 21 points nearly five months after the Blackhawks made him the first overall draft pick.
"It's exciting," Kane said. "I don't know if we expected it to happen this quick."
The breakout performances from the two players has helped Chicago score 51 goals, nine more than at this point last season.
Nikolai Khabibulin hopes he gets the chance to build on his 30-save performance against the Red Wings. It was his first game since allowing three goals on six shots and being pulled in the first period of a 5-2 loss to Nashville on Nov. 4, Chicago's last defeat.
The veteran goaltender has been shaky with a 6-6-0 record and 3.00 goals-against average in 12 starts. He allowed six goals on 25 shots to the Blue Jackets in a 7-4 loss Oct. 23, giving him a 1-3-1 mark and 4.39 GAA in his last five games against Columbus.
Khabibulin was benched for last Wednesday's matchup in favor of Patrick Lalime, who made 24 stops.
The Blue Jackets , meanwhile, are looking to stop a season-high four-game losing streak after opening 8-3-2. They haven't lost five in a row since an eight-game slide from last Nov. 10-24.
Columbus was swept in a home-and-home series by Nashville, losing the second game 4-1 on Monday after a 4-3 shootout defeat two days earlier.
David Vyborny scored the lone goal for Columbus, ending a 16-game drought. The right wing has 14 career goals against Chicago, nearly double his total against any other club.
Rick Nash, the Blue Jackets' leader with 11 goals and 17 points, was held without a point in the two games against the Predators. He has 15 goals and 15 assists in 26 games against the Blackhawks, including three points Oct. 23.