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Blackhawks continue long trip vs. Canucks

by John Kreiser

BLACKHAWKS (15-4-4) at CANUCKS (12-8-4)


Last 10: Chicago 7-2-1; Vancouver 3-4-3

Season series: The Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks get together for the first of three times this season. Vancouver won two of three games last season; both of the wins came at Rogers Arena.

Big story: The Blackhawks "Circus Trip" makes its third stop when the defending Stanley Cup champs come to the Pacific Northwest. They've split the first two games on the seven-game expedition, bouncing back from a 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche by beating the Winnipeg Jets 6-3 on Thursday. The Canucks ended a five-game losing streak and broke out of an offensive slump by beating the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-2 at home Friday night.

Team Scope:

Blackhawks: If there were ever any doubt about Marian Hossa's value, his performance Thursday night ended it.

Hossa returned against the Jets after missing three games with a lower-body injury and contributed at both ends of the ice. He had an assist and the go-ahead goal, but also contributed three takeaways as the Blackhawks shut down the Jets in the third period.

"His instincts with how we have to play our system [fit[ to a T," coach Joel Quenneville said Friday, according to the Chicago Tribune. "His backside pressure is as good as anybody in the game. He goes up the ice defensively as quickly as he goes up with the puck. It's a nice trait, and it really reinforces how we have to play to be successful."

Canucks: After five losses in which the Canucks scored all of six goals, the dam burst in the second period against Columbus. Three goals in a span of 2:10 in the second period turned a 1-1 nail biter into a 4-1 game that let the Canucks breathe a little easier. Zack Kassian, Henrik Sedin and Alexander Edler scored to give Roberto Luongo (14 saves) a rare cushion.

"We needed to get the puck to the net and keep shooting and we did that," Kassian said. "We played well, we hadn't scored a lot, so it feels good."

Who's hot: Chicago's Patrick Kane is riding a nine-game points streak during which he has five goals and eight assists. … Henrik Sedin had two goals and Daniel Sedin scored once and had two assists against Columbus.

Injury report: Chicago is without forward Bryan Bickell (lower body), who was injured in Colorado and is expected to miss at least two weeks. Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin (lower body) and center Michal Handzus (upper body) are on injured reserve. … Vancouver is still without forward Jordan Schroeder (ankle).

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