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Blackhawks' Hossa can hit milestone vs. Senators

by Chris Stevenson

BLACKHAWKS (5-3-1) at SENATORS (5-2-1)


OTTAWA -- Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa has the opportunity to hit the 1,000-point milestone Thursday in the building where his NHL career started.

Hossa has 998 points (465 goals, 533 assists) and will play his 1,100th NHL game at the Canadian Tire Centre against the Ottawa Senators.

The Senators drafted Hossa in the first round (No. 12) of the 1997 NHL Draft.

Hossa played the first seven seasons of his NHL career with the Senators. He was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers for forward Dany Heatley and defenseman Greg de Vries before the 2005-06 season.

Hossa admitted the chance to reach the milestone in Ottawa has been on his mind.

"I would be lying if I said no, but I know my focus is on the game," he said. "I try not to think about the outcome. It's always nice to come to Ottawa where everything started. It's a good chance to make a milestone in this building, which would be great, but the first thing is we have to win the hockey game."

Hossa has built a reputation as one of the game's best two-way forwards while winning the Stanley Cup twice with the Blackhawks.

Senators defenseman Chris Phillips, a former teammate, said Hossa's body of work makes him one of the best to have played the game, and said Hossa should be considered for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

"It's been amazing. It's been fun to watch to see what he's been able to accomplish. I wish it was here," Phillips said. "He's been to the Final four times, won two Stanley Cups. We were looking at his stats the other day in Chicago. I think he's got Hall of Fame numbers. It's very impressive.

"He's two or three shy of 1,000 points with two Stanley Cups, been to the Final four times and the way he carries himself, a classy guy. If I was voting I'd put him in [the Hall of Fame], that's for sure."

Hossa's strong two-way game, developed with the Senators under coach Jacques Martin, has served as an example for teammates. Hossa is plus-209 in his NHL career.

Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane said he has learned to appreciate the value of playing a two-way game from watching Hossa.

"He's a dominant player. I think that's the best way to describe him," Kane said. "He has an influence and an impact on every shift he's out there. He's great defensively. He's probably the best backchecker on the team and maybe the best backchecker in the League.

"He's awesome taking the puck away from guys on the other team and getting the puck back and sustaining play. I think that's where he gets a lot of his offense is through his defense. I've kind of learned that watching him. It's pretty impressive.

"I think we're all kind of hoping he has some good fortune [Thursday] and something special can happen with him coming back to where he started. He's a great player and an even better teammate. As good a player as he is, he's a better teammate."

The Blackhawks defeated the Senators 2-1 on Sunday. Chicago goaltender Scott Darling made his NHL debut in the victory and will start Thursday, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said after their morning skate.

The win against the Senators is the Blackhawks' only victory in their past four games (1-3-0).

The Blackhawks outshot the Senators 45-33 in their previous game, the most shots the Senators have given up in a game this season. They have been outshot in all but one game.

Senators coach Paul MacLean said improving in the faceoff circle could help his team get more shots. The Senators are 23rd in the League in faceoff percentage at 48.2 percent.

"When you start with the puck you have the opportunity to put it in places where we can get it back," he said. "They're a good team. They're the Chicago Blackhawks. They are perennially one of the best teams in the League, something we're aspiring to be, and it's a challenge for us to play them. We look forward to another opportunity to test ourselves against them."

Here are the projected lineups:


Bryan Bickell - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Patrick Sharp - Andrew Shaw - Patrick Kane

Jeremy Morin - Brad Richards - Kris Versteeg

Brandon Saad - Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Trevor Van Riemsdyk - Michal Rozsival

Scott Darling

Corey Crawford

Scratched: Antti Raanta, David Rundblad

Injured: Daniel Carcillo (knee)


Clarke MacArthur - Kyle Turris - Bobby Ryan

Milan Michalek - Mika Zibanejad - Alex Chiasson

Zack Smith - David Legwand - Chris Neil

Mike Hoffman - Curtis Lazar - Mark Stone

Chris Phillips - Erik Karlsson

Jared Cowen - Cody Ceci

Patrick Wiercioch - Eric Gryba

Craig Anderson

Andrew Hammond

Scratched: Colin Greening, Erik Condra, Robin Lehner

Injured: Mark Borowiecki (undisclosed), Marc Methot (back/hip)

Status report: With his wife due to deliver a baby Thursday, Lehner isn't expected to dress for the Senators, who called up Hammond from the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis to serve as their backup if Lehner isn't available. … MacLean's only update on Borowiecki, who was slammed into the boards by Columbus Blue Jackets forward Corey Tropp on Tuesday, is he's not available Thursday. … Methot has been increasing his on-ice workouts but is not ready to practice with the team, MacLean said. … Quenneville said the Blackhawks will not carry three goaltenders and will make a roster move after the game Thursday. He said not to read anything into the fact that Raanta was scratched Thursday.

Who's hot: Chiasson has three points in his past three games (two goals, one assist). … Darling is 1-1-0 with a 1.03 goals against average and a .966 save percentage in his two starts with the Blackhawks.

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