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Preview: Blackhawks at Jets

Winnipeg goes for sweep of season series; Chicago tries for fourth straight win

by Scott Billeck / Correspondent

BLACKHAWKS (33-17-5) at JETS (25-27-4)

8 p.m. ET; TSN3, CSN-CH, NHL.TV

Blackhawks team scope

The Chicago Blackhawks will try to avoid a sweep of their five-game season series against the Winnipeg Jets and extend their winning streak to four games. This is the fifth of a six-game road trip that ends against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. "We had a really rough season against Minnesota last year… so same goes for Winnipeg, there a team that's had a lot of success against us," captain Jonathan Toews said. "We need to prepare better. We need to come out and much more respect for that team and what they can do. They have a lot of offense, a lot ability and they always play great in that building. We got to be ready for that and bring our best." The Blackhawks have been outscored 14-5 by the Jets this season, and they've struggled to create a net-front presence. "I think the only way you score in this league is by getting to the net," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I think we've done a pretty good job on this trip of finding a way to create screen and second opportunities by getting there." The Blackhawks trail the Minnesota Wild by five points for first place in the Central Division.


Jets team scope

Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck will get his second start in the past 10 games for the Jets, who've lost their past two games overall and three in a row at home. Ondrej Pavelec left at 6:15 of the second period with a lower-body injury in a 4-2 loss to the Wild on Tuesday. Coach Paul Maurice hopes Pavelec can return in a week. Pavelec has started eight of the past 10 games since being called up from Manitoba of the American Hockey League on Jan. 17. Hellebuyck was the winning goaltender in each of Winnipeg's four victories against the Blackhawks this season. "I've really had some time to recover from the grind of the beginning of the season and really work on the fine details of my game," Hellebuyck said Thursday. "You don't even realize how mentally and physically grinding it is because you're just continuing on. When you recover from it, you [remember] this is what good feels like." Hellebuyck is 4-1-0 with a 1.41 goals-against average and a .956 save percentage in his career against the Blackhawks. Defenseman Ben Chiarot was activated from injured reserved Friday and will play after missing 12 games with an upper-body injury. "Just play my game, do my job, come in and play hard and try to contribute," Chiarot said. The Jets are six points out of the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.


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 -- Vinnie Hinostroza

Duncan Keith -- Niklas Hjalmarsson

Michal Kempny -- Brent Seabrook

Brian Campbell -- Trevor van Riemsdyk

Corey Crawford

Scott Darling

Scratched: Gustav Forsling, Andrew Desjardins, Jordin Tootoo

Injured: Michal Rozsival (lower body)


Jets projected lineup

Andrew Copp -- Mark Scheifele -- Blake Wheeler

Nikolaj Ehlers -- Bryan Little -- Patrik Laine

Shawn Matthias -- Adam Lowry -- Joel Armia

Mathieu Perreault -- Nic Petan -- Drew Stafford

Toby Enstrom -- Dustin Byfuglien

Josh Morrissey -- Jacob Trouba

Ben Chiarot -- Paul Postma

Connor Hellebuyck

Michael Hutchinson

Scratched: Chris Thorburn, Mark Stuart

Injured: Marko Dano (lower body), Tyler Myers (lower body), Ondrej Pavelec (lower body)


Status report

Hossa missed the morning skate but Quenneville said he will play. … Winnipeg placed defenseman Julian Melchiori on waivers Friday.


Who's hot

Kane has six goals and 12 assists in his past 15 games. Toews has two goals and three assists during a three-game point streak and is three points for 600 in NHL career. ... Scheifele has eight goals and eight assists in his past 13 games and is two points for 200 in NHL career. Wheeler has three goals and seven assists in his past nine games.

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