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Blackhawks' Richards to play 1,000th game vs. Stars

by Brian Hedger

STARS (6-7-4) AT BLACKHAWKS (9-7-1)


CHICAGO -- It's going to be a special night for Brad Richards on Saturday at United Center.

The Chicago Blackhawks veteran center will skate in his 1,000th NHL game and will do it against one of his former teams. The Blackhawks host the Dallas Stars, whom Richards spent parts of four seasons (2007-11) with.

"It's not the normal day," Richards said Sunday. "[There are] a lot of thoughts and memories with all the talk about it. It's amazing the amount of reflecting you do. A lot of people who've helped me are here in town, so to see them [Saturday] for dinner and to have them here [Sunday], it's pretty special and it's hard to believe, really. It flies by so quick; it's hard to believe."

Richards has three goals and nine points in 17 games with Chicago. In 14 seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Stars, New York Rangers and Blackhawks, he has 876 points. He also has the memory of his NHL debut with the Tampa Bay Lightning fresh in his memory.

It happened Oct. 6, 2000; the Lightning tied the New York Islanders 3-3 in their season-opener.

"That was back when they still had ties," said Richards, whose infant son will be in attendance Sunday for the first time. "It goes by so quick. But this morning waking up I felt just as nervous or more nervous than I did that day. So it's kind of special."

Chicago and Dallas did not hold morning skates Sunday, but Richards will start the game in the role most assumed he'd fill when he signed a one-year contract with the Blackhawks in July. He'll center Chicago's second line with Kris Versteeg on his left side and Patrick Kane on the right.

Richards has spent more time centering the fourth line, but his recent production -- he has two goals and two assists in his past five games -- and Chicago's lack of a better option has given him a chance to seize that role for an extended stretch

The Blackhawks are coming off a disappointing performance Friday in a 4-1 loss at the Detroit Red Wings and continue to seek more urgency on a consistent basis.

The Blackhawks made two roster moves Saturday, sending forward Peter Regin and backup goaltender Antti Raanta to Rockford of the American Hockey League and recalling forward Joakim Nordstrom and goaltender Scott Darling

Dallas is 0-4-2 against Central Division opponents and 3-6-3 against teams from the Western Conference. After a home loss Saturday against the Minnesota Wild, the Stars fell to 1-4-4 at American Airlines Center.

Following the game Sunday the Stars will head home for a season-high five-game homestand that starts Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes. Dallas also announced Saturday that second-year forward Valeri Nichushkin needs surgery on his hip and will be out four months.

Ruff might start with the same top line he used to finish against Minnesota, meaning Tyler Seguin will center Jamie Benn and Ales Hemsky, who got back into the lineup Saturday after being a healthy scratch. Benn is locked in a goal drought. He has 39 shots on goal in the past 10 games but has no goals and four assists in that span.

Goaltender Corey Crawford will start his eighth straight game for the Blackhawks. The Stars' Kari Lehtonen started in goal Saturday and could play both ends of the divisional back-to-back set.

Here are the projected lineups:


Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Ales Hemsky

Curtis McKenzie - Jason Spezza - Erik Cole

Antoine Roussel - Cody Eakin - Ryan Garbutt

Shawn Horcoff - Vernon Fiddler - Travis Moen

Alex Goligoski - John Klingberg

Jordie Benn - Trevor Daley

Brenden Dillon - Jamie Oleksiak

Kari Lehtonen

Anders Lindback

Scratched: Kevin Connauton, Colton Sceviour

Injured: Valeri Nichushkin (hip surgery), Patrick Eaves (lower body), Patrik Nemeth (right arm laceration)


Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Kris Versteeg - Brad Richards - Patrick Kane

Bryan Bickell - Andrew Shaw - Daniel Carcillo

Ben Smith - Marcus Kruger - Joakim Nordstrom

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Trevor van Riemsdyk - David Rundblad

Corey Crawford

Scott Darling

Scratched: Jeremy Morin, Michal Rozsival

Injured: Patrick Sharp (knee)

Status report: Carcillo is expected to start on the third line after primarily logging fourth-line minutes prior to his injury. ... Searching for offense in the third period Saturday, Ruff shifted Hemsky to right wing on the top line and moved Seguin to center. The Stars also could start Sunday with the regular top line intact, meaning Spezza centering Benn and Seguin. ... Moen could make his debut for the Stars after being acquired in a trade last week with the Montreal Canadiens.

Who's hot: Richards has three goals and seven points in his past 10 games. … Toews has two goals and four assists in the past five games. ... Seguin has five goals and seven points in the past five games.

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