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Gameday: Hurricanes at Blackhawks

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

CHICAGO - Last stop in a Western Conference city this season.

This is the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information you need to know for tonight's cross-conference tilt between the Carolina Hurricanes and Chicago Blackhawks. Make Hurricanes.com a regular stop throughout the day, as we update this hub with notes, photos and more as puck drop draws near.

The Hurricanes practiced in Chicago on Wednesday and won't skate this morning. We'll chat with head coach Bill Peters in the early evening to get the latest.

Last updated: 8:05 p.m.


CANES LINES: WARM-UPS
8:05 p.m.

Joakim Nordstrom will amke his return to the lineup tonight, and here's how the Canes will look with him back in the mix.

Aho-Staal-Teravainen
McGinn-Lindholm-Williams
Skinner-Rask-Di Giuseppe
Nordstrom-Ryan-Stempniak

Slavin-Pesce
Dahlbeck-Faulk
Hanifin-van Riemsdyk

Darling
Ward

The puck drops in Chicago in 30 minutes!

Tweet from @MSmithCanes: Scott Darling is back in Chicago, and he leads the #Canes to the ice for warm-ups. pic.twitter.com/xKIj7KM7X5


BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF NORTH CAROLINA TOOLS TO VICTORY
5:55 p.m.

TV's Mike Maniscalco sets the table for tonight's game with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina three Tools to Victory.

1. Be Aware of Kane

Patrick Kane is still one of the top offensive players in the game, and he always seems to find the soft spots on the ice. Take him out of rhythm by bumping him off the puck and making sure that there is always a player marking him.

2. Big Effort from Scott Darling

Chicago is his hometown and against his former team, he is going to want to play well. He's coming off a solid effort in relief in Minnesota and has the playbook to beat the Hawks shooters. He just has to execute it.

3. Start the Game with Emotion

Don't wait for something to happen. Go out and create the buzz in the building with a good first shift.


IN THE ROOM: DARLING & PETERS
3:15 p.m.

The Hurricanes didn't skate today, but goaltender Scott Darling and head coach Bill Peters spoke after practice on Wednesday. Hear from them below.

Video: Scott Darling: "Really excited about it"

Video: Bill Peters: "It's a hard position"


CANES LOOK TO REBOUND IN CHICAGO
12:00 a.m.

Following a 6-2 defeat in Minnesota, the Carolina Hurricanes will look to rebound when they make their first and only trip of the season to Chicago to face off with the Blackhawks.

With just 15 games remaining in the regular season, the Hurricanes are attempting to remain in the playoff hunt, but their chances grow slimmer by the day. The team is just 2-6-2 in their last 10 games, and Tuesday's loss to a stalwart Minnesota club was disappointing.

"That's a tough night," head coach Bill Peters said after a Wednesday practice in Chicago. "Our compete level wasn't where it needed to be. You've got to get that figured out."

One of the bright spots in an otherwise forgettable game was the play of Scott Darling, who relieved Cam Ward in the second period. Darling surrendered a goal to Eric Staal - his second of the game - on the first shot he faced but settled in after that.

"We've got to play better in front of both our goaltenders," Peters said. "We've got to play structure. When we play well and hard and are committed to doing it right, we're a good hockey team. When we get away from it, things are tough."

Darling, in his return to Chicago, will get the start against his former team.

"It's obviously a day I've had circled on my calendar," Darling said. "I've been really excited about it."

Darling said he'll have "a lot" of family and friends in the crowd, "maybe 30," he suggested. And they've all had this one circled on their calendars, too.

"It's going to be nice to have my family there and some friends," Darling said. "They've been looking forward to this."

Joakim Nordstrom, who has missed the team's last four games with an eye injury, is also likely to return against his former team. Nordstrom has skated with the Hurricanes for the last two days and has been medically cleared, according to Peters.

The Hurricanes and Blackhawks first met this season on Nov. 11. The Hurricanes twice had two-goal leads at 2-0 and 3-1, but the Blackhawks forced extra hockey with two straight goals in the third period, and it was Brandon Saad's 7th goal of the season that ended it in 3-on-3 action.

CANESPR NOTES: The Canes are 3-1-1 in their last five games against the Blackhawks. … Jeff Skinner has earned seven points (3g, 4a) in 11 career games against Chicago, including two multi-point games.


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