The NHL's leading scorer this season will have added motivation Sunday evening.
After being named the Central Division captain for this month's all-star game in Nashville earlier this weekend, Patrick Kane will be recognized prior to the Chicago Blackhawks' 7 p.m. ET game against the visiting Ottawa Senators for his recent franchise-record 26-game points streak.
"At first, when they tell you about it, you don't know if it's something that warrants a pre-game ceremony," Kane, whose streak from Oct. 17 to Dec. 15 was the longest by an American-born player and longest since Mats Sundin's 30-game streak in the 1992-93 season, told reporters.
"But when you think about it and people kind of explain it to you, what records were set and what happened in the streak, it makes you think that it's going to be pretty fun."
Sunday's ceremony at the United Center will include a video highlighting Kane's streak and a brief presentation by Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman.
Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov posted a 29-save shutout to end the streak by Kane, who didn't record a shot that night.
Hull pushed aside
The 27-year-old Buffalo native tied Bobby Hull's franchise-best scoring streak of 21 games set in 1971-72 with a three-point performance at Ottawa on Dec. 3.
Kane set the club mark on home ice three days later with an assist in a 3-1 Chicago victory over Winnipeg.
"I think the exciting part was just how into it the crowd was when the announcement was made and hearing how excited they were. That was a fun little feeling there," Kane said at the time.
Kane has continued to enjoy himself, leading all NHL players with 56 points on 23 goals and 33 assists for a Blackhawks outfit that has won three straight and sits third in the Central with a 22-13-4 record.
Since Kane combined with linemates Artem Anisimov and rookie Artemi Panarin for eight of Chicago's nine points in a 4-3 overtime loss to the hometown Senators in early December, he has only been held off the scoresheet twice and has 15 points in 13 contests, including three-point efforts in each of the past two games against Arizona on Tuesday and Colorado on Thursday. He has three goals and six points in nine regular-season outings versus the Senators.
Ottawa, which has dropped two straight, is expected to ice the same lineup that played in a 3-0 home loss to New Jersey on Wednesday.
'It will be a hard game, for sure. But I don't know about [intimidating]. It's going to be a lot of excitement.' - Senators rookie defenceman Fredrik Claesson on facing Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks
That means 23-year-old Fredrik Claesson will partner with Senators captain and fellow Swede Erik Karlsson on the blue-line for a second consecutive game.
Claesson, who played 12 minutes 20 seconds in his NHL debut Wednesday, said facing the likes of Jonathan Toews and Kane on Sunday would be challenging.
"They have a lot of skilled guys," the six-foot-one, 205-pound rearguard told reporters of the Blackhawks. "It will be a hard game, for sure. But I don't know about [intimidating]. It's going to be a lot of excitement."
Ottawa head coach Dave Cameron liked Claesson's "whole game" versus the Devils.
"He was good with the puck, he was good without the puck, good gap [control], made good decisions when he had it. Didn't force plays," said Cameron, who might make Jared Cowen a healthy scratch Sunday.
The Senators enter Sunday's matchup against the defending Stanley Cup champions having surrendered a league-high 33.8 shots on goal per game this season.
Chicago's blue-line, meanwhile, will be minus David Rundblad, whom the Blackhawks announced on Sunday had been loaned to the ZSC Lions of Switzerland's National League A. The 25-year-old former member of the Senators had two assists in nine games for Chicago this season.