DEVILS (8-6-1) at BLACKHAWKS (8-6-1)
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CHICAGO -- New Jersey Devils forward Jiri Tlusty will be a healthy scratch and forward Stefan Matteau will take his spot in the lineup against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Thursday.
Tlusty had no points in three games after returning from a shoulder injury that kept him out for two games. He has one goal and two assists this season. Tlusty, who signed with New Jersey as a free agent in September, hasn't had a point since Oct. 27 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Devils coach John Hynes said the nagging shoulder injury hasn't adversely affected Tlusty, whom he'd like to see play more of a power game up front.
"I wouldn't necessarily say [it was] a setback," Hynes said after the Devils' morning skate. "There's just certain components to his game that we feel are part of his identity as a player … strength on [the] puck, compete on the puck, being able to play a real strong power forward type of game. [We'll] just take a little breather here, talk to him about it, show him some things we want done better and see if we can get him back to where he was about a month ago."
Hynes hopes to see some of the same things from Matteau, who's 6-foot-2, 220 pounds. Matteau, whose father Stephane Matteau played for the Blackhawks from 1991-1994, has no points in six games.
"Stef, he has to be strong on pucks in the offensive zone," Hynes said. "He has to be able to establish that, and then we'd like to see a strong, consistent compete [level] with him, where he's using what his assets are. He has size, he's a good skater, and when he does those things on a consistent basis, then those are the things that will be able to keep him in the lineup."
The Blackhawks will have some slight changes to their lineup as well. Rookie forward Brandon Mashinter will play left wing on the fourth line, after being recalled from Rockford of the American Hockey League on Wednesday, and Andrew Shaw will get another shot at playing on the top line.
The Blackhawks have rotated a number of forwards through the left wing spot on the top line with captain Jonathan Toews and right wing Marian Hossa, but none have played well enough to stick there.
Shaw, who's spent the majority of the season at right wing on the fourth line, hopes to change that trend in his second opportunity playing with Toews and Hossa.
"They're two great players," said Shaw, who has one goal and three assists. "It's a privilege to play with both of them. I've just got to go out there and work and compete, get pucks back for them and go to those dirty areas."
Another slight change for Chicago involves forward Teuvo Teravainen, who will play right wing on the third line with left wing Marko Dano and rookie center Tanner Kero. Teravainen said he doesn't care what forward spot he plays, but he produced the most while on the right wing of the third line during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Chicago is looking for more balanced scoring, after getting 18 of its 21 goals during 5-on-5 play through 15 games with either Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov or Patrick Kane on the ice.
Panarin, Anisimov and Kane are together again as the second line, but the Blackhawks know they can't keep leaning so heavily on just that group for so much of their offensive production.
"They've been so hot all year, so other teams will have to [focus] on that line harder," Teravainen said. "Maybe that gives our other lines a little more opportunity. Our other lines want to score too, so we'll see how it goes tonight."
The Devils are anticipating a strong push right off the hop from Chicago, which lost to New Jersey 4-2 at Prudential Center on Nov. 6, after falling behind 4-0 in the second period.
"Anytime the games are almost back-to-back, it raises the stakes a little bit," Devils captain Adam Henrique said. "It's a big game for them and it's a big game for us. It's a key part of our schedule right now, and coming off a loss, you never want to lose two in a row. We just have to come out strong and focus on what we have to do."
Goalie Corey Crawford, who was pulled in the first period of the first game against the Devils, will start for the Blackhawks. Cory Schneider will start for New Jersey.
Here are the projected lineups:
Mike Cammalleri - Adam Henrique - Lee Stempniak
Sergey Kalinin - Travis Zajac - Kyle Palmieri
Stefan Matteau - Jacob Josefson - Jordin Tootoo
Bobby Farnham - Stephen Gionta - Brian O'Neill
Andy Greene - Adam Larsson
John Moore - Damon Severson
Jon Merrill - David Schlemko
Injured: Tuomo Ruutu (right foot fracture), Patrik Elias (right knee), Ryane Clowe (concussion)
Scratched: Eric Gelinas, Jiri Tlusty
Andrew Shaw - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa
Artemi Panarin - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane
Marko Dano - Tanner Kero - Teuvo Teravainen
Andrew Desjardins - Marcus Kruger - Brandon Mashinter
Viktor Svedberg - Brent Seabrook
Trevor van Riemsdyk - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Erik Gustafsson - Trevor Daley
Injured: Duncan Keith (right knee), Michal Rozsival (left ankle)
Scratched: Ryan Garbutt, David Rundblad, Viktor Tikhonov
Status report: Daley and Gustafsson are switching points for the first time. Quenneville tried it out in practice Wednesday and wants to see how it works in a game.
Who's hot: Panarin had two goals and an assist in the Blackhawks' 4-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday and has points in five of the past six games. … Palmieri has four goals and five assists in the past seven games for the Devils.