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Shaw, Desjardins team up on Blackhawks fourth line

by Brian Hedger / NHL.com

CHICAGO -- Andrew Shaw and Andrew Desjardins had plenty of run-ins when they played for different teams, but now they're teaming up on the Chicago Blackhawks' fourth line to make life miserable for somebody else.

Heading into Game 3 at United Center on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports), the Blackhawks will count on them for another successful blue-collar effort battling for pucks and holding one of the Ducks lines in check.

Desjardins plays left wing, Shaw plays right wing and in between is gritty two-way center Marcus Kruger, whose game-winning goal in triple overtime of Game 2 in the Western Conference Final on Tuesday evened the best-of-7 series against the Anaheim Ducks at 1-1.

"I just think our line worked together [in Game 2]," said Shaw, who scored on a power play, led Chicago with seven shots on goal and tied for second with 10 shot attempts. "We were cycling the puck, getting chances, getting shots on net. [Kruger] made some great passes; so did [Desjardins]. And when your line's clicking like that you're going to get those opportunities."

Shaw, Desjardins and Kruger clicked instantly in the Western Conference First Round against the Nashville Predators. After sitting out the first two games of that series as a healthy scratch, Desjardins entered the lineup along with center Antoine Vermette in Game 3, with Vermette centering the third line and Shaw moving to the wing on the fourth line.

Desjardins scored the first goal in Chicago's 4-2 victory and that line led the Blackhawks in puck possession. They've been together ever since and continue to improve. Against the Ducks in Game 2 they were matched against Anaheim's top line and held up solidly despite Corey Perry's game-tying goal late in the second period.

In all they played more than 14 minutes at 5-on-5 against Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Patrick Maroon, starting exclusively in the defensive zone, and impressed Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville with the job they did.

"That line, they all bring a little bit something different to the lineup," Quenneville said after Chicago's morning skate Thursday. "I think they're all instinctively in tight areas, in the puck areas. A lot of these playoffs they've had a lot of goals like [Perry's] go in without production at the other end, knowing at the end of the day they're out-chancing the top line, the line they're out there against. They have a lot of zone time. They generate momentum in our team game. That's part of the job description."

It helps that Desjardins and Shaw are similar.

Each has experience playing center, enjoys the physical aspect and is skilled at winning puck battles. Prior to the trade with the San Jose Sharks that united them, they had their share of conflicts on the ice.

"Every game I think one of us was asking each other to go or lipping at each other," Shaw said. "I knew that he was a tough, little scrappy guy; you know, a hard-on-the forecheck type of guy. And he's lived up to it. He's great on the forecheck. He's going to hit, he's going to get in those scrums and he's going to make plays offensively as well."

Desjardins said the same about Shaw.

"It's always been one of those respect things," he said. "I've always respected him and known that he's a great player … so it's been great being able to play with him."

Shaw and Desjardins participated in the Blackhawks' optional skate, which included most of the bottom-six forwards plus those expected to be healthy scratches. Kruger and Vermette didn't skate, nor did the players who usually skate on the top two lines or on the top two defense pairs.

Here are the projected lineups:

DUCKS

Patrick Maroon - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry

Matt Beleskey - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg

Andrew Cogliano - Nate Thompson - Kyle Palmieri

Jiri Sekac - Rickard Rakell - Emerson Etem

Hampus Lindholm - Francois Beauchemin

Cam Fowler - Simon Despres

Clayton Stoner - Sami Vatanen

Frederik Andersen

John Gibson

Scratched: Korbinian Holzer, James Wisniewski, Chris Wagner, Tomas Fleischmann, Tim Jackman, Jason LaBarbera

Injured: None

BLACKHAWKS

Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Bryan Bickell - Brad Richards - Patrick Kane

Patrick Sharp - Antoine Vermette - Teuvo Teravainen

Andrew Desjardins - Marcus Kruger - Andrew Shaw

Duncan Keith -Niklas Hjalmarsson

Johnny Oduya - Kyle Cumiskey

Kimmo Timonen - Brent Seabrook

Corey Crawford

Scott Darling

Scratched: Kris Versteeg, Joakim Nordstrom, David Rundblad, Daniel Carcillo, Antti Raanta

Injured: Michal Rozsival (fractured ankle)

Status report: Quenneville didn't give hints about whether he'd make any lineup changes. But based off his comments Wednesday it doesn't appear there will be any changes on defense. Cumiskey, in fact, might be used a little more often now that Quenneville can dictate matchups better with the last change.

Who's hot: Crawford made a career-high 60 saves in Game 2, including a number of high-difficulty saves during the three overtime periods. His save percentage is .945 since struggling in the first round.

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