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Blackhawks' Ladd returns to Winnipeg

Former Jets captain, traded Feb. 25, calls playing former team 'weird'

by Patrick Williams / Correspondent

BLACKHAWKS (41-24-6) at JETS (29-36-5)

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

WINNIPEG -- Chicago Blackhawks left wing Andrew Ladd will play his first game against the Winnipeg Jets since a Feb. 25 trade when the teams play at MTS Centre on Friday.

Ladd, the former Winnipeg captain, played 429 games with the franchise before he was acquired by Chicago for forward Marko Dano and draft picks. Ladd acknowledged mixed feelings about his return to Winnipeg.

"It's a little weird," Ladd said. "It's probably the best way to describe it. I spent a lot of great years here."

Chicago has lost four consecutive games (0-3-1) and will be without goaltender Corey Crawford (upper body). Scott Darling will start for the Blackhawks, and goaltender Michael Leighton was recalled from Rockford of the American Hockey League on Thursday to replace Crawford.

"It's a great opportunity for [Darling]," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "I know that he hasn't played much this [season] … and all of a sudden the importance of the games is what's even more critical for everyone. Taking advantage of it at a tough time like he did last [season] for us is what we're looking for."

After shuffling lines before a 3-2 home loss against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday, Quenneville will reunite Ladd on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. Patrick Kane will be back on a line with Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov.

Center Teuvo Teravainen (illness) is questionable for the game, Quenneville said. Forwards Dennis Rasmussen and Richard Panik are expected to return to the lineup, and Brandon Mashinter will be a healthy scratch. Defenseman Erik Gustafson will replace Christian Ehrhoff.

Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec will start for the Jets. Nic Petan, who was recalled from Manitoba of the AHL as an emergency recall on Thursday, will replace JC Lipon in the lineup.

Jets coach Paul Maurice said his players are ready to face their former captain.

"He was such a well-liked guy in the [dressing] room," Maurice said. "They'll be happy for him. Everybody is happy to see Andrew. The fans I'm sure are going to be appreciative when they have the opportunity, and then the game is going to take over."

Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien joked about Ladd's return. The two were teammates with Chicago and with the Atlanta Thrashers before the franchise relocated to Winnipeg in 2011.

"It's all business," Byfuglien said. "I can't wait to shoot a puck at him and run him into the boards."

Here are the projected lineups:

Andrew Ladd - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa
Artemi Panarin - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane
Tomas Fleischmann - Andrew Shaw - Dale Weise
Andrew Desjardins - Dennis Rasmussen - Richard Panik

Duncan Keith - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Trevor Van Riemsdyk - Brent Seabrook
Erik Gustafsson - Michal Rozsival

Scott Darling
Michael Leighton

Injured: Corey Crawford (upper body), Marcus Kruger (left wrist), Teuvo Teravainen (illness)
Scratched: Christian Ehrhoff, Brandon Mashinter

Drew Stafford - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler
Mathieu Perreault - Alexander Burmistrov - Marko Dano
Nic Petan - Adam Lowry - Scott Kosmachuk
Chris Thorburn - Andrew Copp - Matt Halischuk

Toby Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Jacob Trouba - Tyler Myers
Ben Chiarot - Paul Postma

Ondrej Pavelec
Michael Hutchinson

Injured: Joel Armia (lower body), Grant Clitsome (back), Nikolaj Ehlers (eye), JC Lipon (undisclosed), Bryan Little (neck), Anthony Peluso (upper body), Mark Stuart (hand)
Scratched: None

Status report: Crawford is day-to-day, according to Quenneville. … Dano will play his first game against Chicago since the trade. He had one goal and one assist in 13 games with the Blackhawks.

Who's hot: Toews has four goals in his past eight games. … Dano has five points (three goals, two assists) in his past five games.

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