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Powerhouses collide as Canucks host Hawks

by Sergei J. Feldman
BLACKHAWKS (11-4-3) at CANUCKS (9-8-1)


Last 10: Chicago (6-3-1); Vancouver (5-5-0)

Season Series: The two Western Conference combatants will meet for the second of four times this season. Just 10 days ago, Vancouver handled Chicago, 6-2, on the road. Daniel and Henrik Sedin combined for seven points in a winning effort for the Canucks.

Big Story: While the Chicago Blackhawks aim to maintain their lead atop the Central Division — they also own the best record in the League.

Team Scope:

Blackhawks — The Blackhawks' rendezvous with the Canucks will mark the first game of a six-game road trip that will span two weeks. They enter the trip feeling good about their game, as the Hawks have rebounded from a three-game winless skid and currently ride a three-game winning streak. They've done so in dominant fashion, too, outscoring Columbus, Calgary and Edmonton, 16-7. The wins all came in Chicago and getting six of a possible six points was an important feat for the Hawks.

"It was important we finish this homestand right," defenseman Steve Montador said. "We're still learning, still making mistakes and learning from them."

Canucks — While the Blackhawks embark on a long road trip, the Canucks just came off of a similar trip, in which they went 3-3-0. Nowadays, the Canucks are on a three-game homestand and started things on the right track, beating the New York Islanders, 4-1. Unfortunately, the Canucks will continue their homestand without the services of goalie Roberto Luongo, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, although coach Alain Vigneault said it was "nothing serious," according to the team's website.

Moving forward, the Canucks will rely on contributions elsewhere and recently, defenseman Aaron Rome has embraced that role. In a recent 4-1 win over the Islanders, Rome collected a goal and two assists and the team recognized the importance of that depth and contribution.

"We're fighting over who gets on the ice with him, who changes for his partner so you get a couple seconds out there with him just in case (he scores)," teammate Kevin Bieksa said. "Everything he touches is turning to gold."

Who's Hot: Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews each own three-game scoring streaks to lead the Hawks while the Sedin twins have points in three of their past five games for the Canucks.

Injury Report: Brent Seabrook and Dave Bolland are day-to-day with leg and foot injuries, respectively, for the Hawks while the Canucks are without Luongo (upper-body), forward Andrew Ebbett (foot), Steve Pinizzotto (shoulder), who are day-to-day and Byron Bitz (hip), who is out indefinitely.

Stat Pack: The Blackhawks are ranked 24th and 26th in power play percentage and penalty killing, respectively.

Puck Drop: Special teams figure to be a key in the game as it was when the two teams met 10 days ago when the Blackhawks scored five with the man-advantage. Meanwhile, entering the game, the Canucks bring the top-ranked power play to the ice.

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