CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Evgeni Malkin #71 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates toward the bench after scoring an empty net goal in the closing minute against the Chicago Blackhawks during a preseason game at the United Center on September 30, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Penguins defeated the Blackhawks 4-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The Blackhawks travel to face a potent Penguins offense on Monday and then return home on Tuesday to welcome in the NHL's best last-place team, the Canadiens.
The Chicago Blackhawks (21-8-4, 46 pts) play back-to-back games in the second-to-last week of the year 2011, heading to Pennsylvania to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins (18-11-4, 40 pts) on Tuesday, then returning on Wednesday to host the Montreal Canadiens (13-13-7, 33 pts).
Tuesday, December 20: Blackhawks @ Penguins, 6:30 PM CST
The Blackhawks begin their two-day tour of the Eastern Conference on Tuesday, playing Sydney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins sit in third place in the Atlantic Division, chasing the Philadelphia Flyers, but enter the game boasting one of the league's top offenses, having scored 107 goals through their first 33 games.
The Penguins have in LW James Neal (18 goals) an elite offensive threat as he sits tied with Blackawks captain C Jonathan Toews (18) for 4th most goals in the NHL. Pittsburgh also employs the dynamic C Evgeni Malkin, who has 36 points in the 2011-2012 NHL Season -- good for 4th best in the league.
Wednesday, December 21: Blackhawks vs. Canadiens, 6:30 PM CST
On Wednseday, the Blackhawks return to the United Center to play the Montreal Canadiens. Despite sitting at the bottom of the Northeast Division, the Canadiens actually sport a .500 record and the second best penalty kill rate (88.8%) in the NHL.
The Canadiens have in Carey Price one of the better young goalies in the league, with a .915 save percentage over his league-leading 1765 minutes played. The 24-year-old Price led the NHL in wins in the 2010-2011 season and already has 12 wins in his 2011-2012 campaign.
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