CHICAGO -- The New Jersey Devils will head into the Christmas break by playing the defending Stanley Cup champions Monday at United Center.
"I could think of better places to end," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said, laughing. "But you've got to come here at some point. Our guys are excited for the challenge."
The NHL-leading Blackhawks (25-7-6) are looking forward to it after falling 3-2 in a shootout against the Vancouver Canucks on Friday. They'd like to get back on a winning track before getting three days off for the holiday.
Chicago hasn't faced New Jersey since the 2011-12 season and hasn't beaten the Devils at United Center since a 5-1 victory Dec. 31, 2009. The Blackhawks haven't beaten the Devils regardless of location since April 2, 2010 at Prudential Center.
"We haven't seen them in a bit," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "We've been watching them on tape and they're playing well. They're coming off a big win [against the Washington Capitals] and they're comparable [to] the same style they've played in the past. They have a lot of guys that play the right way."
Cory Schneider (4-7-5, 2.03 goals-against average) will start in net for the Devils (15-15-7). Antti Raanta (7-1-2, 2.22 GAA) will start his ninth straight game for the Blackhawks, who are missing top goalie Corey Crawford and backup Nikolai Khabibulin because of lower-body injuries.
Here are the projected lineups:
Dainius Zubrus - Travis Zajac - Jaromir Jagr
Steve Bernier - Patrik Elias - Mattias Tedenby
Reid Boucher - Adam Henrique - Michael Ryder
Cam Janssen - Stephen Gionta - Jacob Josefson
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Eric Gelinas - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Jon Merrill
Scratched: Andrei Loktionov, Tim Sestito
Injured: Damien Brunner (right knee), Ryane Clowe (concussion), Ryan Carter (leg), Bryce Salvador (foot stress fracture), Peter Harrold (broken foot), Adam Larsson (lower body)
Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa
Kris Versteeg - Michal Handzus - Patrick Kane
Bryan Bickell - Andrew Shaw - Brandon Saad
Brandon Bollig - Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith
Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Nick Leddy - Michael Kostka
Scratched: Michal Rozsival, Sheldon Brookbank
Injured: Nikolai Khabibulin (lower body), Corey Crawford (lower body)