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Hawks host Blues in home opener

by John Kreiser

BLUES (2-0-0) at BLACKHAWKS (2-0-0)

TV: FS-Midwest; CSN-Chicago

Season series: It’s the first of five meetings this season between the Central Division rivals. The Blackhawks won four of six last season, though they needed a shootout in each of the last two.

Big story: After a sensational start out West this past weekend, the Hawks play their home opener before what’s sure to be a packed house at the United Center. But the Blues have also won their first two games, including a 3-2 shootout win at Nashville on Monday.

Team Scope:

Blues: Two nights after they proved they can make winning look easy, the Blues also showed they have some resilience. St. Louis trailed 3-2 entering the third period at Nashville, but Alex Pietrangelo’s third-period goal forced overtime and T.J. Oshie and Alex Steen connected in the shootout for a 4-3 victory.

"It's our first road game of the year, we were down by a goal and end up tying it up and winning," center Jaden Schwartz said. "We had a little adversity there, and we came through so I think we can build on that."

The Blues outshot the Predators 39-24 and have nearly doubled the output of their first two opponents – 75-38.

Blackhawks: Shades of 2009-10. Though it’s only a two-game sample, this season’s Hawks look a lot like the Cup-winners of three years ago in terms of having a balanced offense that’s generating lots of goals.

Chicago routed Los Angeles 5-2 in its opener on Saturday and outscored Phoenix 6-4 on Sunday, giving the Hawks 11 goals in two games.

“I know it's only two games and it's early to be talking about it,” forward Marian Hossa told the Chicago Tribune on Monday, “[but] we're rolling four lines so everybody is more energized instead of playing two or three lines so much ice time. So far, we are happy about it."

Who’s hot: Rookie Vladimir Tarasenko has been a shot in the arm for the Blues’ offense, which struggled for much of last season. The 21-year-old Russian followed up a two-goal performance in his NHL debut on Saturday with a goal and two assists against Nashville. … Hossa is coming off back-to-back two-goal games, showing no ill effects from the season-ending concussion he suffered in the playoffs last spring.

Injury report: The Blues are healthy. … Chicago is without forward Daniel Carcillo, who sustained a lower-body injury in the third period of Saturday’s win at L.A. and is expected to miss about a month. Rookie Brendan Saad will replace Carcillo on the top line with Hossa and Jonathan Toews.

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