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Preview: Coyotes vs. Blackhawks

Arizona is hoping to have Max Domi back in the lineup

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content

GLENDALE -- The Coyotes may have a key player back in the lineup on Thursday night when they host the Chicago Blackhawks. The puck drops at 7 p.m. Arizona time at Gila River Arena.

Forward Max Domi, who hasn't played since suffering a hand injury on Dec. 8, practiced with the Coyotes on Wednesday and is considered day-to-day. Domi also took part in Thursday's morning skate. After the skate, Head Coach Dave Tippett said Domi would be a game-time decision.

"He's been skating for a month now, so it's not like he's just getting back around it," Tippett said. "He competed hard in practice (on Wednesday) and didn't look any worse for wear. But we still have to monitor where he is today. We have to make sure ... Max is one of our top players, and when a top player is out for a couple of months, he's missed."

Video: Dave Tippett previews Thursday's game vs. Hawks

Despite missing 23 games, Domi ranks fifth on the team with 16 points (five goals, 11 assists).

Goalie Mike Smith did not practice on Wednesday, but will start in goal for Arizona (16-27-6), which has won five of its past seven home games.

Forward Radim Vrbata leads the Coyotes with 34 points and co-leads the team with 11 goals, along with Tobias Rieder.

"We've been playing the right way lately and we want to continue to do that and improve," Vrbata said. "We're playing a really good team in Chicago, so it will be an added challenge."

Forward Ryan White will enter the game with a three-game point streak. The Coyotes are 6-2-0 in games in which the fourth-line winger notches a point.

Rookie Christian Dvorak, who grew up near Chicago and rooted for the Blackhawks, is excited to play them on his 21st birthday.

Video: Christian Dvorak previews Thursday's game vs. Hawks

A sell-out crowd is expected for the game, and Arizona wants to perform well in front of it. The Coyotes have struggled vs. the Blackhawks on home ice recently; they've posted a 1-5-1 record over the past seven games vs. Chicago in Glendale.  

Chicago (30-17-5) has lost three games in a row and scored just six goals in those defeats. 

"We're looking for balance, more lines that are both offensively and defensively responsible and consistent," Head Coach Joel Quenneville said. "We've had (more line juggling) this year than in other years. Putting it all together and finding a four-line rotation game in and game out is what we're trying to get to. We looked like we were playing better and then we lose three tough games in a row."

Forwards Artem Anisimov and Marian Hossa co-lead the Blackhawks with 18 goals, and forward Patrick Kane is setting the pace with 49 points.

Corey Crawford, who has won just two of his past six starts, is expected to start in goal. Crawford has notched a 7-2-2 record vs. the Coyotes in his career, but his save percentage in those games is just .890.

The Blackhawks are struggling to score power-play goals lately; they are just 1 for 20 over their past eight games. 

Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson leads the team and ranks fifth in the NHL with 123 blocked shots.

The Blackhawks will have center Marcus Kruger back in the lineup after he missed a 3-1 loss at the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday because of an illness.

OFFICIAL GAME NOTES

BROADCAST INFO

TV: FOX Sports Arizona

Radio: ESPN Phoenix 620 AM

Tweet from @ArizonaCoyotes: Welcome back Max! #CHIvsARI pic.twitter.com/bw1qGTVExx

 

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