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Ducks try to salvage homestand vs. Blackhawks

by Jon Lane

BLACKHAWKS (34-10-14) at DUCKS (40-13-5)


Last 10: Chicago 4-2-4; Anaheim 5-5-0

Season series: The Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks play for the third and final time this season. The teams split the first two games, with Chicago's 4-2 win on Jan. 17 at United Center ending Anaheim's 18-1-0 surge.

Big story: Although their spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is all but secure, the Ducks have motivation not to rest on their laurels. Besides going 4-5-0 since Jan. 15, Anaheim is no longer invincible at Honda Center. Once 20-0-2 on home ice, the Ducks have dropped three of four during a five-game homestand.

Nipping at the Ducks' heels in the race for the Presidents' Trophy are the Blackhawks, who are three points behind them for the best record in the NHL and 13-0-6 against the Pacific Division.

"I think it's appropriate we play Chicago," Ducks defenseman Bryan Allen said following practice Tuesday. "They're a great team coming in that's always a good battle and great games. It'll be good to end [the homestand] with a victory."

Team Scope:

Blackhawks: Chicago is resting veteran forward Marian Hossa each chance it gets. Coming off an impressive January in which he had nine goals, three assists and a plus-4 rating, Hossa has sat out two morning skates and a practice during the road trip, yet continues to produce in games. Hossa had an assist and was plus-1 in the Blackhawks' 5-3 win Monday against the Los Angeles Kings.

"It is huge when you can have some days extra off and just maybe not going out on the ice and working on something different here in the dressing room or in the gym," Hossa said. "As long as you feel good on the ice, that's the important thing."

Ducks: With his team enduring a bit of a slump for the first time all season, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau sent a message Tuesday that emphasized having fun. In lieu of a demanding practice, Boudreau had players begin with a "two-puck" drill followed by a scrimmage.

"Sometimes when things are going bad and things aren't going right, players forget it's a game to have fun," Boudreau said. "We played a little bit of two-puck to warm up and told them that the sun still rose today and we’re still first place. Let's not jump off a cliff because we haven't played well the past week."

Who's hot: Blackhawks right wing Kris Versteeg is on a four-game point streak (four assists). Left wing Brandon Saad has five points (three goals, two assists) in his past five … Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf has points in four of five and 12 of his past 14 games.

Injury report: Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (shoulder surgery) is on injured reserve and expected to miss the rest of the season. … Ducks goalie Viktor Fasth (upper body) faced shots Tuesday during his first full practice since going on IR. Center Nick Bonino (upper body), and defensemen Mark Fistric (lower body) and Sheldon Souray (right wrist surgery) are on IR.

Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNHL

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