Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa
left the team to attend to a family matter and will not play against the Vancouver Canucks Saturday night, coach Joel Quenneville said after the morning skate.
"I think it's OK but I don't know yet," Quenneville said, adding he "didn't know yet" how long Hossa will be gone.
Hossa missed three games with a lower body injury before returning to score a goal and add an assist in Chicago's last game, a 6-3 win against the Winnipeg Jets Thursday night. Hossa has scored 10 goals and recorded 17 points in 20 games this season.
With Chicago already missing forward Bryan Bickell, who was injured against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, Hossa's absence means Kris Versteeg will slide back up to the top line of the NHL's highest-scoring team. Versteeg has a goal and four points in four games since being re-acquired in a trade with the Florida Panthers on Nov. 15.
Michal Handzus rejoined the Blackhawks in Vancouver after missing 13 games with an upper-body injury but the veteran forward isn't ready to return against the Canucks. Quenneville said Handzus could return against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday or the Calgary Flames on Wednesday as Chicago continues a seven-game road trip.
These two teams engaged in one of the League's fiercest rivalries when they met in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in three consecutive seasons. Despite having not met in the playoffs since 2011, Chicago forward Patrick Kane thinks the old rivalry will heat up quickly.
"Every time you see certain guys on that team in that uniform, for whatever reason things tend to ignite," said Kane, who has five goals and 13 points during a nine-game point streak. "All of us have our little personal battles with certain guys over there.
The Canucks are coming off a 6-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets Friday night that snapped a five-game losing skid and held an optional morning skate Saturday, with backup goalie Eddie Lack and the healthy scratches the only ones on the ice. The team sent word through its media relations staff that Roberto Luongo, who made 14 saves against Columbus, would start in goal a second straight night. But predicting the lines may be tough, especially since Canucks coach John Tortorella, who wasn't available to the media Saturday morning, switched them up early and often against Columbus.
Given the goal outburst, which matched the six goals Vancouver scored during an 0-3-2 slide that preceded the win on Friday, it's a safe bet the forward mix will start against the Blackhawks the same way they finished against the Blue Jackets, with Daniel and Henrik Sedin back together after starting the game on separate lines.