Preview: Blackhawks at Blues
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[March 09, 2016]
The Chicago Blackhawks hope to see a
familiar face back in the lineup when they test their mettle against
fellow Central Division heavyweights St. Louis and Dallas this week.
Sidelined with a lower-body injury, veteran forward Marian Hossa is
poised to return from an eight-game absence on Wednesday when the
Blackhawks visit the Blues.
"Obviously it's going to be a great test for our team, a two big
games on the road (and) Mom's trip. So, couldn't have timed it
better," Hossa told CSN Chicago. The 37-year-old will join captain
Jonathan Toews and Andrew Ladd on the top line for the Blackhawks,
who have won three of four to reside one point behind first-place
Dallas prior to Friday's contest at the American Airlines Center.
Chicago also holds a two-point lead over St. Louis, which wrapped up
its four-game road trip with three straight victories to improve to
9-3-1 in its last 13 contests. The Blues have won just one of three
meetings with the Blackhawks, although Vladimir Tarasenko has scored
three goals in the series - including the overtime winner in a 6-5
victory on Nov. 4.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TVA Sports
ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (41-21-5): Corey Crawford has yielded just five
goals en route to winning his last three contests overall and is a
blistering 14-4-4 with three shutouts in his career versus St.
Louis. One such dominating performance occurred on Jan. 24, as the
31-year-old Montreal native turned aside all 25 shots he faced for
his career-high seventh blanking of the season. Rookie Artemi
Panarin scored in that contest and had two assists in a 4-1 victory
over Detroit on Sunday for his second multi-point performance in his
last three games.
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ABOUT THE BLUES (38-20-9): After missing three games with an
upper-body injury, Jori Lehtera scored in his return to send St.
Louis to a 4-2 victory over Minnesota on Sunday. The 28-year-old
Finn has been held off the scoresheet in six of seven career
meetings with Chicago - save for a two-assist performance in a 4-2
setback on Nov. 14. Jake Allen made 23 saves in that outing to take
the loss, but has permitted just seven goals during his current
three-game winning streak.
1. St. Louis, which entered play on Tuesday with the top penalty
kill in the NHL (86.6 percent), has thwarted nine of its last 10
2. Blackhawks F Marcus Kruger agreed to a three-year, $9.25 million
contract extension on Tuesday.
3. Injured Blues LW Alex Steen (upper body) and G Brian Elliott
(lower body) were on the ice on Tuesday, although both admitted that
their respective return dates are at least two weeks away.
PREDICTION: Blues 4, Blackhawks 2
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