The Chicago Blackhawks were pleased with their performance during a season-high eight-game road trip, although the trek did end on a sour note.
In their first home game in nearly three weeks, the Blackhawks will try to bounce back by earning their fourth straight victory over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night.
Chicago (37-14-4) went 5-3-0 on its trip, but closed it with a 4-2 loss to Carolina on Saturday night.
"We said .500 would be OK and double digit (points) we'd be very happy with," coach Joel Quenneville said. "A win tonight would have made it a really good trip. We're not complaining, but I think we deserved a better way to end it."
Andrew Ladd tied the game early in the third period for the Central Division leaders, who had a 41-24 shot advantage. The Hurricanes, however, answered 1:25 later and added another goal 26 seconds after that.
"It's nice to be done, but we wanted to get the win tonight," defenseman Duncan Keith said. "It would have been a lot better going home as winners. ... It's been a long road trip, and it'll be nice to get back."
The Blackhawks will now try to improve their 21-5-0 record at the United Center. They have won 18 of 21 at home.
That stretch includes a 3-0 victory over the Blues on Dec. 16. Chicago, which also earned a 6-3 win at the Scottrade Center on Jan. 2, went 8-2-1 in its last 10 at home against St. Louis, although two of the losses came last season.
The Blackhawks dropped four of six to the Blues in 2008-09, but have bounced back as Patrick Sharp, Tomas Kopecky and Brian Campbell have two goals apiece in the season series. Patrick Kane has four assists in the two victories.
Center Dave Bolland is expected to play his first game since undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disc Nov. 10.
Cristobal Huet started both games against St. Louis and posted a 1.41 goals-against average in his last five matchups with the Blues. Quenneville, though, will start Antti Niemi, who has never faced them.
Niemi, pulled from his previous start Jan. 23 against Vancouver, will be in net against a team that has scored two goals in four straight games and split its last four on the road.
"He hasn't played in a while," Quenneville said. "He had a tough time in Vancouver. It's a chance for him to get back in the net. Huet played some good games as well, but it's (Niemi's) chance to get back in net."
The Blues (24-22-9) fell 3-2 in overtime to visiting Columbus on Saturday night. Andy McDonald helped his team earn its sixth point in five games by scoring with 1:35 remaining in regulation.
"Getting to overtime was a little consolation, but we're looking for two points," forward David Backes said. "We need to finish the job."
With his team-leading 17th goal, McDonald extended his point streak to seven. He has three goals and four assists during the run.
Like the Blackhawks, the Blues hope to benefit from a three-day break after playing 19 times in 36 days.
The teams meet again Saturday night in St. Louis.
St. Louis Blues
139 Goals 175
241 Assists 312
380 Points 487
33 Power Play Goals 40
4 Short-Handed Goals 8
2.66 GAA 2.24
.910 Saves % .906
4 Shutouts 8
873 PIM 621
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