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Canucks look to bounce back vs. Blackhawks

by John Kreiser

CANUCKS (20-11-6) at BLACKHAWKS (25-7-5)


Last 10: Vancouver 7-2-1; Chicago 6-3-1

Season series: The Vancouver Canucks are making make their only visit of the season to United Center. They'll be looking to avenge a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks at Rogers Arena on Nov. 23.

Big story: The Canucks face a tough second half of a back-to-back when they come to Chicago to visit the well-rested Blackhawks, who've been off since beating the Nashville Predators 3-1 on Tuesday. It's the Canucks' third game in four nights on a quick trip through the Midwest.

Team Scope:

Canucks: Expect coach John Tortorella to emphasize to his team the need to be ready from the opening faceoff. That wasn't the case Thursday night against the Dallas Stars, who scored twice in 15 seconds before the game was five minutes old and never looked back on the way to a 4-1 victory.

Chris Higgins scored a first-period goal, but that was the only one of the Canucks' 27 shots to beat Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen.

Still, Tortorella wasn't too upset after seeing his team fail to get a point for the first time this month.

"It's our first game we haven't got a point in, I think, nine or 10 games," he said. "We need to move by it and not overthink this and get ready to play our next game."

Blackhawks: After 19 games in 34 days, culminating with the victory at Nashville on Tuesday, the Blackhawks have spent the past two days taking it easy.

The defending Stanley Cup champs approach the Christmas break with a League-leading 55 points and went 13-5-1 during their 19-game grind.

"It's been a great season so far. We're having fun," captain Jonathan Toews told the media Thursday at the team's annual holiday skate. "I think it's nice to enjoy moments like this because we have been playing so many games and working really hard to get to where we are. We got to take a few moments to catch your breath and spend some time with family, especially this time of year."

The Blackhawks have the weekend off before hosting the New Jersey Devils on Monday, prior to the three-day break.

Who's hot: Higgins had Vancouver's lone goal in Dallas and has scored in three of his past four games. … Chicago's Patrick Kane has five goals and 13 assists during a 10-game point streak. Patrick Sharp has seven points in the past five games.

Injury report: Vancouver defenseman Ryan Stanton injured his ankle Tuesday and has returned home. Defenseman Alexander Edler (lower body) and forward Alexandre Burrows (broken jaw) are out. … Chicago is missing its top two goaltenders; Corey Crawford and Nikolai Khabibulin are sidelined with lower-body injuries.

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