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Blackhawks, Jets meet for third time in November

by David Kalan

BLACKHAWKS (14-4-4) at JETS (10-10-3)


Last 10: Chicago 7-2-1; Winnipeg 5-4-1

Season series: This is the third of four meetings this season, and the third this month, between the Chicago Blackhawks and Winnipeg Jets. Chicago has won the first two games by a combined score of 9-2.

Big story: The Blackhawks are looking to bounce back after a rough loss Tuesday night against the Colorado Avalanche, while the Jets can climb over .500 with a win against the defending champs.

Team Scope:

Blackhawks: Just as it does every November, the circus has come to Chicago, and just like it does every year that means the Blackhawks are leaving for an extended road trip. Chicago opened its annual circus trip against Colorado on Tuesday night. Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, the visit to one of their biggest competitors for the Central Division crown wasn't a pleasant one, as Chicago lost 5-1.

It was a particularly rough game for goalie Corey Crawford, who was pulled in the first period after surrendering three goals on seven shots.

"It was a tough game right from the start," defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "I thought we gave a good push back in the second period. For the whole second period it was a pretty good period and we had some chances there and we just couldn't capitalize."

The loss could be a damaging one in the standings for Chicago, which remains in first place, but has played two more games than both Colorado and the St. Louis Blues, who are within two and one point of the Blackhawks, respectively. The Blackhawks have six more games on the circus trip, which will eventually take them through western Canada and the southwest United States.

Jets: Winnipeg has been playing some of its best hockey of the season of late. The Jets are 4-1-1 in their past six games, a stretch that includes impressive wins against the San Jose Sharks and the Detroit Red Wings among others, but that winning streak is still a tenuous one. Each of Winnipeg's past three wins came in the shootout, meaning the team's current run of success could easily have been an extended slump.

The Jets found out what it was like to be on the flip side of that coin in their most recent game Monday night, losing to the Calgary Flames 5-4 in a shootout. Despite the loss, the game was still a victory of sorts as Winnipeg managed to steal a point when forward Bryan Little scored to force overtime with 5.6 seconds remaining in regulation.

"We'll take the one [point]," coach Claude Noel said. "It's not ideal, but that's what we'll take."

Shootout or no, the Jets have one regulation loss in their past six games, and the run has pulled them out of the basement of the Central Division, where they've struggled to keep pace despite playing .500 hockey to this point in the season.

Who's hot: Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane is on an eight-game point streak in which he's tallied four goals and seven assists. … Winnipeg defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is wielding a hot stick as he prepares to face his former team, having scored four goals and added an assist in the past three games.

Injury report: Blackhawks left wing Bryan Bickell left the team's loss to Colorado with a lower-body injury and is out for Thursday. Right wing Marian Hossa (lower body) returns after missing the past two games. Goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (lower body) is on injured reserve after leaving the Blackhawks' loss to the Nashville Predators on Saturday. … Jets defenseman Mark Stuart (hip) is out Thursday, while defenseman Zach Bogosian (groin) and center Jim Slater (sports hernia) are out indefinitely.

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