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Blackhawks, Ducks top teams that could use a win

by Brian Hedger /

CHICAGO -- It's a matchup of top teams Friday at United Center (8 p.m. ET, NHLN-US), but the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks are winless in their past two games.

The Ducks (18-7-5) have dropped a pair of games in shootouts, and the Blackhawks (20-6-4) have lost two straight in regulation for the first time this season, including a stinging 4-3 defeat Thursday against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.

Minnesota charged back with two late goals in the third period to beat Chicago, after coughing up a one-goal lead early in the final period. The Blackhaws are in the middle of a stretch when they're playing nine games in 15 days, after returning from a seven-game, 14-day road trip.

"We're probably at the high-point of the season in basically the volume of games," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "They're just rolling one to the next. We want to make sure we keep the right focus going into the game ... here we are tonight playing that is rested and they're big and they played us well last year and they're a dangerous team. That's a challenge."

The Ducks, who haven't played since losing in a nine-round shootout Tuesday against the Los Angeles Kings, were the only team to hold a morning skate at United Center.

Anaheim has won four straight games against Chicago in regular-season competition, including all three games last season. Those three losses accounted for a quarter of Chicago's 12 regulation defeats.

"The thoughts on Chicago are … they're very good," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "There's no ifs, ands or buts about it. They're going to lose some games, but if you ever come in and play Chicago you know you're in for a fight."

Look for Ducks forwards Emerson Etem and David Steckel to draw into the lineup after being recalled Thursday from Norfolk of the American Hockey League.

It was a three-game AHL stint for 21-year old Etem, who'd been sent down mainly to send a message. Steckel is up primarily because of his skill in the faceoff circle.

Jonas Hiller, who stopped 49 of 51 shots in the loss to the Kings, was the first goalie off the ice and will likely start in net for Anaheim. Chicago will start rookie Antti Raanta, after starter Corey Crawford had an off night in Minnesota.

"I thought he's had two really good stretches, on that road trip and at the start of the year," Quenneville said of Crawford, who gave up two goals late in the third period in the loss against the Wild. "I just think that's there and finding that consistency ... that's what we're looking for."

Crawford has played in 26 games, which is more than a third of the amount the Blackhawks were hoping to play him this season. Several tough outings for backup Nikolai Khabibulin, followed by a lower-body injury that led to Raanta's arrival, are the main reasons Crawford has played so often.

"The thought process initially was [to] play him in that 60-[game] range, to be healthy for everybody," Quenneville said. "We'll see at the end how it all works out."

Chicago forward Michal Handzus, who missed the past two games with an illness, will play against the Ducks. Forward Andrew Shaw (upper body) will miss his second straight game and remains day-to-day.

The latest Anaheim injury was to center Mathieu Perreault (lower body), who was added to the injured reserve list Thursday. Also injured are forward Jakob Silfverberg (broken hand) and defenseman Francois Beauchemin (upper body). Silfverberg and Beauchemin are on the two-game trip to Chicago and St. Louis for conditioning purposes.

Here is how the Ducks and Blackhawks could line up:


Dustin Penner - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry

Emerson Etem - Matt Bonino - Teemu Selanne

Daniel Winnik - Saku Koivu - Andrew Cogliano

Matt Belesky - David Steckel - Kyle Palmieri

Cam Fowler - Ben Lovejoy

Bryan Allen - Sami Vatanen

Mark Fistric - Hampus Lindholm

Jonas Hiller

Frederik Andersen

Scratched: Alex Grant, Patrick Maroon, Tim Jackman

Injured: Luca Sbisa (torn hand tendon), Viktor Fasth (muscle inflammation), Francois Beauchemin (upper body), Jakob Silfverberg (broken hand), Sheldon Souray (torn  wrist tendon)


Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Brandon Saad - Michal Handzus - Patrick Kane

Jeremy Morin - Kris Versteeg - Sheldon Brookbank

Brandon Bollig - Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Nick Leddy - Michal Rozsival

Antti Raanta

Corey Crawford 

Scratched: Joakim Nordstrom

Injured: Bryan Bickell (lower body), Andrew Shaw (upper body), Nikolai Khabibulin (lower body)

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