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Vermette to play for Blackhawks against Predators

by Brian Hedger /

CHICAGO – Forward Antoine Vermette will be in the lineup for the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Sunday against the Nashville Predators for Game 3 of their Western Conference First Round (3 p.m. ET; NBC, TVA Sports, SN).

Vermette, who was acquired from the Arizona Coyotes two days before the NHL Trade Deadline, was a healthy scratch in the first two games at Bridgestone Arena. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville didn't say who is coming out of the lineup to make room for Vermette.

"He's worked hard here," said Quenneville, who met with reporters Sunday before the game. "I think he's practiced well and I think he's disappointed, obviously, [he didn't] get to start [in Nashville]. If you could prepare to get a chance to get in there, things change quickly in our business and we expect him to come in and play a strong game for us, and be excited about the chance to play."

It will be unclear until pregame warm-ups what position and what forward line Vermette will be placed. The 32-year old veteran has played center most of his career, but Quenneville played him on the right wing of the second line for a stretch when right wing Patrick Kane was injured.

Vermette didn't score a goal for the Blackhawks and contributed points in two of the 19 games he played (three assists). Andrew Desjardins, who could come also play, had no goals and two assists in 13 games for Chicago, but helped the fourth line by winning a lot of board battles and holding the puck in the offensive zone.

If Desjardins plays, it likely means Joakim Nordstrom will be scratched. Nordstrom has played on the top penalty-killing unit since former Blackhawks forward Ben Smith was traded to get Desjardins, and it's unclear who will fill that role if Nordstrom sits.

It might be Vermette, whose skill at winning faceoffs was missed in the first two games. There were some who felt veteran defenseman Michal Rozsival might be scratched in favor of David Rundblad, but Quenneville said it's not likely that Rundblad plays Sunday.

Quenneville announced Saturday that rookie backup goalie Scott Darling, who won Game 1 in relief, will start in place of regular starter Corey Crawford – who had started the Blackhawks' previous 57 Stanley Cup Playoffs games dating back to the 2010-11 postseason.

Here are the projected lineups:


Filip Forsberg - Mike Ribeiro - Craig Smith

Colin Wilson - Matt Cullen - James Neal

Mike Santorelli - Calle Jarnkrok - Viktor Stalberg

Gabriel Bourque - Paul Gaustad - Taylor Beck

Roman Josi - Seth Jones

Mattias Ekholm - Ryan Ellis

Victor Bartley - Cody Franson

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Kevin Fiala, Anton Volchenkov

Injured: Eric Nystrom (lower body), Mike Fisher (lower body), Shea Weber (lower body)


Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsMarian Hossa

Kris VersteegBrad RichardsPatrick Kane

Bryan BickellAntoine VermettePatrick Sharp

Andrew DesjardinsMarcus KrugerAndrew Shaw

Johnny OduyaNiklas Hjalmarsson

Duncan KeithMichal Rozsival

Kimmo TimonenBrent Seabrook

Scott Darling

Corey Crawford

Scratched: David Rundblad, Joakim Nordstrom, Teuvo Teravainen, Michael Paliotta, Kyle Cumiskey,

Injured: Daniel Carcillo (upper body injury)

Status report: Quenneville said Carcillo skated on his own Sunday. Carcillo has been out with an upper-body injury since March 25 and missed the final nine games of the regular season. Asked if he'd like to play Carcillo, Quennville said, "We like options."

Who's hot: Sharp has a goal in each of the first two games of this series and three straight games including the final game of the regular season.

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