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Preview: Islanders at Blackhawks

Niklas Hjalmarsson, Johnny Oduya out for Chicago; Travis Hamonic returns for New York

by Brian Hedger / NHL.com Correspondent

ISLANDERS (30-22-10) at BLACKHAWKS (40-18-5)

8:30 p.m. ET; WGN, MSG+, NHL.TV

 

Islanders team scope

Defenseman Travis Hamonic will return from a lower-body injury when the New York Islanders seek their fifth win in six games. Hamonic, who was activated from injured reserve Friday, has missed 23 games. The Islanders did not have a morning skate after a 5-4 victory at the Dallas Stars on Thursday. They are tied in points with the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference; the Islanders have one game in hand. "If you look at the standings, it is [close], but you don't want to be looking at it too much," defenseman Nick Leddy told the Islanders web site Thursday, before returning to play against his first NHL team. Goalie Thomas Greiss will start for the second time in as many nights after he made 21 saves in Dallas.

 

Blackhawks team scope

The Chicago Blackhawks are 10-1-0 in their past 11 games, but are expected to be without five players as they try to extend their winning streak to six games. Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body) and newly acquired defenseman Johnny Oduya (ankle) won't play Friday or against the Nashville Predators on Saturday. Center Artem Anisimov (lower body) participated in the morning skate but won't play. Rookie forward Nick Schmaltz (illness) didn't skate and likely is out. Anisimov and Schmaltz will make the trip to Nashville and could play Saturday. If Schmaltz doesn't play, rookie Ryan Hartman will play left wing on the top line with center Jonathan Toews and right wing Richard Panik. "Doesn't matter what it is, if it's scoring a goal or a fight or a hit or back-checking, [Hartman] seems to be doing it right now," said Toews, will play his 700th NHL regular-season game "So the three of us, if it happens to be that line tonight, we'll go out there and create and keep playing the way we have been." Goaltender Corey Crawford is expected to start; backup Scott Darling will miss the game because of an upper-body injury. Jeff Glass was recalled from Rockford of the American Hockey League.

 

Islanders projected lineup

Anders Lee -- John Tavares -- Josh Bailey

Andrew Ladd -- Brock Nelson -- Joshua Ho-Sang

Shane Prince -- Ryan Strome -- Jason Chimera

Nikolay Kulemin -- Anthony Beauvillier -- Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy -- Johnny Boychuk

Adam Pelech -- Travis Hamonic

Calvin de Haan -- Dennis Seidenberg

Thomas Greiss

Jean-Francois Berube

Scratched: Thomas Hickey, Scott Mayfield, Stephen Gionta

Injured: Casey Cizikas (upper body), Alan Quine (upper body)

 

Blackhawks projected lineup

Ryan Hartman -- Jonathan Toews -- Richard Panik

Artemi Panarin -- Tanner Kero -- Patrick Kane

Tomas Jurco -- Marcus Kruger -- Marian Hossa

Andrew Desjardins -- Dennis Rasmussen -- Jordin Tootoo

Duncan Keith -- Brent Seabrook

Brian Campbell -- Trevor van Riemsdyk

Michal Kempny -- Michal Rozsival

Corey Crawford

Jeff Glass

Scratched: none

Injured: Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body), Artem Anisimov (lower body), Nick Schmaltz (illness), Johnny Oduya (ankle), Scott Darling (upper body)

 

Status report

If Schmaltz plays, he likely will center the second line with Kero moving to the third line and Kruger centering the fourth line. Rasmussen, who didn't skate on a line in the morning, likely would be scratched.

 

Who's hot

Tavares has seven points (three goals, four assists) in his past seven games. … Kane has 19 points (12 goals, seven assists) in his past 11 games. Toews has 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in his past seven games. Panik has 10 points (five goals, five assists) during a seven-game point streak. Schmaltz has nine points (two goals, seven assists) in a five-game point streak.

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