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Preview: Blackhawks at Stars

Forward Jason Spezza out for Dallas; Chicago continues six-game road trip

by Sean Shapiro / Correspondent

BLACKHAWKS (31-17-5) at STARS (21-21-10)


Blackhawks team scope

The Chicago Blackhawks are trying to win back-to-back games after a three-game losing streak. They are in the midst of a six-game road trip but have mentally split it into two three-game trips. "It's important to win two out of the three [games] on the first half of [the road trip]," forward Marcus Kruger said. "These games within the division are even bigger, we know that." Goalie Corey Crawford will make his third straight start after he had 24 saves in a 4-3 win against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday. "He's got a calming presence for us," defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "When you are playing on the road, it helps to have that much trust in your goalie." It was Crawford's 201st NHL victory, tying him with Ed Belfour for third all-time in Blackhawks history. Forward Jordin Tootoo will enter the lineup for the first time in five games.

Stars team scope

The Dallas Stars will have to shuffle their lineup after Jason Spezza sustained an upper-body injury in a 4-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. He will miss a week or two, possibly longer, coach Lindy Ruff said Friday. Forward Curtis McKenzie will dress after being scratched the past two games. The Stars are 0-2-1 against the Blackhawks this season. "We've had some missed opportunities against this team," Ruff said. "We had a chance in overtime in their building and didn't put it away. So there's been opportunities and we just quite haven't got it done." Dallas is 8-10-4 against the Central Division and enters Saturday four points out of the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. Forward Jamie Benn has seven points (four goals, three assists) during a season-high five-game point streak. Benn had a goal and two assists against Winnipeg. "Puck was on his stick, it was probably his best night with his own puck possession creating his own opportunities," Ruff said. Goalie Kari Lehtonen will make his third straight start and 10th straight appearance after allowing four goals on 29 shots against Winnipeg.

Blackhawks projected lineup

Nick Schmaltz -- Jonathan Toews -- Richard Panik

Artemi Panarin -- Artem Anisimov -- Patrick Kane

Dennis Rasmussen -- Marcus Kruger -- Marian Hossa

Ryan Hartman -- Tanner Kero -- Jordin Tootoo

Duncan Keith -- Niklas Hjalmarsson

Gustav Forsling -- Brent Seabrook

Brian Campbell -- Trevor van Riemsdyk

Corey Crawford

Scott Darling

Scratched: Michal Kempny, Andrew Desjardins, Vinnie Hinostroza

Injured: Michal Rozsival (lower body)


Stars projected lineup

Jamie Benn -- Cody Eakin -- Patrick Eaves

Antoine Roussel -- Tyler Seguin -- Brett Ritchie

Devin Shore -- Radek Faksa-- Patrick Sharp

Curtis McKenzie -- Adam Cracknell -- Lauri Korpikoski

Esa Lindell -- John Klingberg

Dan Hamhuis -- Jordie Benn

Patrik Nemeth -- Stephen Johns

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

Scratched: Jiri Hudler, Julius Honka

Injured: Mattias Janmark (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip), Jamie Oleksiak (hand), Johnny Oduya (lower body), Jason Spezza (upper body)

Status report

Oleksiak skated with the Stars for the first time since injuring his hand against the Anaheim Ducks on Jan. 10. Ruff said Oleksiak is 7-10 days from returning.

Who's hot

Kane has five goals and nine assists in his past 14 games. Toews has three goals and five assists in his past six games. … Eaves has four goals and five assists in his past seven games. Klingberg has a goal and three assists during a three-game point streak. 

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