Preview: Blackhawks at Jets

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[April 01, 2016]  The Chicago Blackhawks begin their second stint this season without reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner Duncan Keith on Friday when they conclude a four-game road trip against the Winnipeg Jets. A two-time Norris Trophy winner, Keith has been suspended indefinitely as he awaits a hearing with the NHL's Department of Player Safety following his use of a high stick that bloodied Minnesota's Charlie Coyle on Tuesday.

"He's not the whole team, but he's a big part of it," fellow blue-liner Erik Gustafsson told CSN Chicago of Keith, who also missed a month after having knee surgery earlier in the season. "He's one of our best defensemen and one of the best in the league. We just have to keep moving and just get on a winning track here, start winning some games in a row." The Blackhawks dropped a 4-1 decision to the Wild for their seventh loss in 10 outings (3-5-2) but still hold a four-point lead over Nashville for third place in the Central Division. Occupying the cellar is Winnipeg, which has dropped six of its last eight overall (2-4-2) and three of the first four meetings with Chicago this season.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, CSN Chicago, TSN3 (Winnipeg)

ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (44-26-7): Although coach Joel Quenneville told the Chicago Sun-Times that he is "hopeful" Corey Crawford (upper body) returns for the postseason, Scott Darling is expected to man the net for the remainder of the campaign. The 27-year-old recorded his lone shutout of the season and second career on March 18 when he turned aside all 28 shots he faced in Chicago's 4-0 victory over Winnipeg. Andrew Ladd, who has three goals and an assist in his last three games, scored in that contest in his first appearance at MTS Centre since the former Jets captain was traded to the Blackhawks on Feb. 25 in a multi-player deal.

ABOUT THE JETS (31-39-7): Former Blackhawks defenseman Dustin Byfuglien lowered the boom on Winnipeg native Mark Stone with a physical - yet clean - open-ice hit as the Jets opened their final homestand of the season with a 2-1 loss to Ottawa on Wednesday. "That was a big hit. That was probably the biggest hit I've ever seen in person," goaltender Michael Hutchinson told the team's website. "That definitely gave us some momentum." Mark Scheifele scored his team-leading 26th goal for his seventh point (three goals, four assists) in five games and also tallied in Winnipeg's 3-1 victory over Chicago on Oct. 29.

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1. Chicago captain Jonathan Toews has recorded 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 18 career encounters versus his hometown team.

2. The Jets are 1-for-14 on the power play versus the Blackhawks this season.

3. Chicago RW Marian Hossa, who scored a short-handed goal versus the Wild, is dealing with an illness and has been ruled out of Friday's game.

PREDICTION: Blackhawks 3, Jets 1

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