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Blackhawks seek first win, revenge against Ducks

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO – The team that's occupying the visitors locker room at United Center on Friday just happens to be the only team in the Western Conference that hasn't lost to the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Anaheim Ducks have beaten the Blackhawks in each of the first two meetings and both have come right down to the end. Now they'll meet for a third and final time this regular season Friday night (8:30 p.m. ET, NHL Network).

Anaheim (22-7-4, 48 points), which trails West-leading Chicago (25-4-3, 53 points) by five points, prevailed 3-2 in a shootout at United Center on Feb. 12 then won 4-2 on March 20 at Honda Center. In that second victory, Anaheim scored twice in the third period to take the lead before adding an empty-net goal.

Neither loss sat very well with the Blackhawks, who ripped through the rest of the conference to start the season with an unprecedented 24-game points streak.

"People want to point out that we haven't won against this team yet, but I don't think that's a huge flaw or anything," Chicago captain Jonthan Toews said. "Obviously we want to prove ourselves. We've played two good games and it's come down to the wire against the Ducks, so if the same situation comes up [on Friday night] we obviously want to be on top. We'll work as hard as we [can] to get there and just make the smart plays and the right plays to stay there, I guess, and find a way to get the two points."

Ray Emery (12-0-0), who made a return to the NHL from major hip/leg surgery with the Ducks in 2011, will start in goal for the Blackhawks. Jonas Hiller (11-4-3) will start for Anaheim, which has dropped four games in a row since last beating Chicago.

"They're big games," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of facing the Ducks. "They're very meaningful when you look at the standings and the implications after the fact. They're still a real dangerous team and we exited both games on a real disappointing note that we didn't finish what we had to do. And that's our motivation going into this game."

That plus putting more distance between themselves and Anaheim in the race for the West's top seed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We want to finish as high as possible," Quenneville said. "We'd love to be [the No. 1 seed], but we'll see. [This] is an important game."

Blackhawks forwards Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa participated in Chicago's morning skate, but will again sit out, each with an upper-body injury. Nick Bonnino remains sidelined with a lower-body injury for the Ducks.

Here is how the Blackhawks might line up against the Ducks:

Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsMichael Frolik

Jimmy HayesDave BollandPatrick Kane

Bryan BickellAndrew ShawViktor Stalberg

Daniel CarcilloMarcus KrugerJamal Mayers

Duncan KeithBrent Seabrook

Niklas HjalmarssonJohnny Oduya

Nick LeddySheldon Brookbank

Ray Emery

Corey Crawford

Scratched: Marian Hossa (upper body, day-to-day), Michal Rozsival, Brandon Bollig

Injured: Patrick Sharp (IR, upper body)

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