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Blackhawks and Canucks renew rivalry

by John Kreiser

BLACKHAWKS (32-10-13) at CANUCKS (27-18-9)


Last 10: Chicago 3-3-4; Vancouver 4-5-1

Season series: The Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks play the rubber game of their three-game series. Each team has won once on the road.

Big story: The defending Stanley Cup champs are playing the second of a seven-game road trip that spans the Olympic break and began with a 5-4 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday. The point they didn't get dropped the Blackhawks out of first place in the Central Division. The Canucks, coming off a 4-2 home loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Monday, are trying to hang on to one of the two wild-card playoff berths in the Western Conference.

Team Scope:

Blackhawks: Chicago has lost a League-low 10 games in regulation. But if the Blackhawks fail to take home the division title, it will probably be because they've struggled to win games that go past regulation. The loss in Calgary was their League-high 13th in games decided in overtime or a shootout.

The Blackhawks enter the night with 77 points, the same total as the St. Louis Blues. But Chicago has played three more games -- and the Blackhawks won't play another one in Chicago until they face the Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldier Field on March 1 in the finale of the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series.

Overall, they've gone four in a row without a victory.

"I don't know if it's good to go through this now so we can learn from it and maybe have something to look back on later in the season, but we know we have to play better," forward Patrick Kane said. "I think sometimes a good effort isn't good enough because it's tough to win in this league when you're going through stretches like this. Sometimes the best thing is just not to really think about it and just go out and play."

Canucks: Vancouver's struggles to score have become a matter of major concern in the Pacific Northwest. Daniel Sedin, who sees action in every major situation, hasn't scored in 13 goals. Ryan Kesler, who is also on every power play, has one goal in 10 games. David Booth, whose power-play time is limited, hasn't scored in 14 games. Alexandre Burrows has missed all but 22 games with two major injuries and has scored three goals in 22 games this season.

The Canucks also are missing No. 1 center Henrik Sedin with a rib injury, though his twin brother thinks there's still enough talent to generate more offense.

"I think we have good enough players on this team to make things happen," Daniel told the Vancouver Province. "I can't blame it on [Henrik's absence]. I have to make things happen so that's something I don't really look at too much. It's up to me. It's my job to score and when I'm not scoring, it's tough."

Defenseman Kevin Bieksa thinks a game against the Blackhawks should generate a sense of urgency that might have been missing against last-place Edmonton.

"We'll be ready for them," Bieksa told the paper. "You have to be at your best when you play the Blackhawks or you'll get embarrassed."

Who's hot: Marian Hossa scored twice for Chicago on Tuesday and has four goals in five games. Kane also scored against the Flames and has two goals and four points in the Blackhawks' past three games. … Canucks forward Jordan Schroeder, who missed most of the season with an ankle injury, had his first two goals of the season against Edmonton.

Injury report: The Blackhawks are healthy except for backup goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin (season-ending shoulder surgery). … In addition to Henrik Sedin, the Canucks are without center Mike Santorelli (arm) and defenseman Andrew Alberts (concussion)

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