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Gameday: Blackhawks vs. Hurricanes

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes
Hello, America!


This is the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information related to tonight’s cross-conference tilt between the Chicago Blackhawks and Carolina Hurricanes in one handy location. Make this a regular stop throughout the day, as we update it with notes, videos, photos and more as puck drop draws near.

A preview of tonight’s game, which will be nationally televised on NBCSN and face off at 7:30 p.m., can be found below. We’ll be rinkside at PNC Arena with updates from the Canes’ morning skate at 10:30 a.m.

Last updated: 7:05 p.m.



CANES LINES: WARM-UPS
7:05 p.m.

Just slight changes in tonight's lineup, with Riley Nash (illness) and Brett Pesce (lower body) appearing ready to return.

Versteeg-E. Staal-Di Giuseppe
Nordstrom-J. Staal-Nestrasil
Skinner-Rask-Lindholm
Terry-McClement-Nash

Hainsey-Faulk
Liles-Pesce
Hanifin-Slavin

Lack
Altshuller

Puck drop is about 30 minutes out!



BEFORE THE FACEOFF
3:05 p.m.

Michelle McMahon puts this cross-conference match-up on a tee!




CANES LINEUP NOTES AND PETERS QUOTES
12:20 p.m.

The Hurricanes held an optional skate this morning, so a handful of players did not take part. A few notables did skate: Riley Nash (illness), Brett Pesce (lower body) and Cam Ward (concussion). Nash and Pesce are both expected to be available for tonight's game.

"I think everyone's a possibility to play," head coach Bill Peters said, not willing to commit to anything lineup-wise beyond that.

Ward, who is expected to be cleared to play following the All-Star break, responded well to getting back on the ice with the team yesterday, Peters said.

"He's doing better," Peters said. "He should be able to join us when we get to Calgary."

Eddie Lack, who is 7-3-2 in his last 12 starts, will get the nod in net again tonight.

Here's more from the head coach.

On Kris Versteeg's role: "He's a real good personality. He's got a lot of energy. He's a pretty good singer and dancer. He leads in his own way with his play and energy. He brings guys into the fight. I think we have a real good room in that regard and a lot of different leadership people providing it. He's one of them."

On Joakim Nordstrom's elevated role with the Canes: "It's a bigger opportunity with more consistent ice time. That's been a real good line with Nordstorm, Jordan Staal and Nestrasil. Three big bodies. Nordy's a guy who gets in on the forecheck. He's not afraid to work. He tracks pucks down."

On a measuring stick game vs. defending Cup champs: "It's a measuring stick for sure. You're playing the Stanley Cup champs. You better get excited about that. We're on NBCSN. You've got to be excited about that. It's the last game before break, so you've got nothing to save it for. I expect a very good effort from our team. We're going to be aggressive; we're not going to sit back and defend."

On the Canes' 2-1 over Chicago on Dec. 27: "We did some good things in Chicago. They had a real good push in the third. We know what they're capable of, and we know what we have to do to get two points here tonight."




DEFENDING CUP CHAMPS COME TO TOWN
6:00 a.m.

Before the Carolina Hurricanes disperse for the All-Star break, they have a date with the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks in a nationally-televised match-up at PNC Arena.

BLACKHAWKS vs. HURRICANES
Blackhawks vs. Hurricanes
PNC ARENA | 7:30 p.m.
TV: NBCSN | RADIO: 99.9 FM
ARTICLES
NOTEBOOK: WARD RETURNS TO PRACTICE
RECAP: CANES JUMP ON FLAMES EARLY, WIN 5-2
INFOGRAPHIC: CAR 5, CGY 2
VIDEOS
RAW: KRIS VERSTEEG, JAN. 25
RAW: JOAKIM NORDSTROM, JAN. 25
RAW: JUSTIN FAULK, JAN. 25
GAMEDAY LINKS
BUY TICKETS
IN-GAME TWITTER
FIRST GOAL CONTEST
The Hurricanes first met the Blackhawks just about a month ago in Chicago, defeating them 2-1 for their second victory in a row coming off the extended holiday break. Eddie Lack made 35 saves on 36 shots, his shutout bid being spoiled the game’s waning seconds, and Justin Faulk and Victor Rask netted goals for the visiting Hurricanes.

“The effort was real good. They came in the third, but our effort and structure was good,” head coach Bill Peters said after that game. “We did a lot of good things.”

“I think we played well for the most part,” Faulk said. “We didn’t give them too many opportunities. They had a few in the third that we’d probably like back, but we were able to weather that, get through it, seal the deal and get the win.”

The Hurricanes have posted a 7-4-3 record since, continuing their climb into the Eastern Conference playoff situation. Following a flat 4-1 effort against the New York Rangers on Friday night, the Hurricanes responded by jumping on the Calgary Flames early and finishing them off in a 5-2 win.

“It was nice to consistently generate offense. I thought we had some good looks throughout the game,” Peters said after Monday’s practice. “I thought all four lines generated some offense at different points in the game.”

Tonight’s contest is a chance for the Hurricanes to carry a two-game winning streak and three victories in four games into the week-long break.

“I think it’s huge. I think it’s real big. Real, real big," Peters said after Sunday’s game. "It’s an opportunity to feel good about yourself for a week or so. You go into the break with two in a row rather than going into the break with a result you don’t want to have.”

The Blackhawks, meanwhile, continue to be one of the league’s best teams. They sit atop the Western Conference with 70 points and 33 wins in 52 games. Before losing back-to-back games to Tampa Bay and Florida, the Blackhawks had won 12 straight games, a streak that began after the Hurricanes escaped the Windy City with two points. Chicago bounced back on Sunday with a 2-0 shutout of St. Louis.

“We’ve got to respect their skill,” Peters said. “We’ve got to really make sure we tighten up. We haven’t been very tight here defensively. You see it on the shot clock and scoring chances against. They’re a type of team that, if you give them that many quality chances, they’ll hurt you. We have to make sure we play properly and have a real mature approach into tomorrow’s game.”

Defenseman Brett Pesce’s status remains a question mark. He’s been nursing a lower-body injury over the last couple of weeks; he did not play Sunday against Calgary or practice on Monday.

“I’d say he’s got a chance to play tomorrow,” a hopeful Peters said. “We’ll see.”

CANESPR NOTES: The Hurricanes were a perfect 5-for-5 on the penalty kill against Calgary Sunday. It was just the third time this season that the Canes have faced five shorthanded situations, and they are 13-for-15 on the kill in those instances. … Elias Lindholm became the youngest player in franchise history to score a penalty-shot goal when he did so Sunday vs. Calgary.



Michael Smith
MICHAEL SMITH is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.

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