The Chicago Blackhawks have another chance to close out their first round series with the Nashville Predators tonight at the United Center.
Head coach Joel Quenneville shuffled his lines slightly at the team’s morning skate.
Kris Versteeg will move up to the Hawks’ second line alongside Brad Richards and Patrick Kane. Bryan Bickell moves down to play with Antoine Vermette and Patrick Sharp.
“They’re both useful options with that [second] line,” said Quenneville.
Versteeg has a goal in the first five games of the series while Bickell has two assists and eight penalty minutes in the five games.
The New York Islanders fell 4-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday night stretching their losing streak to a season-high four games.
The Islanders offense has dried up during the skid as New York has managed just one goal in each of the four games.
The slump coincides with the loss of defenseman Nick Leddy, who missed his fourth game due to an upper body injury.
The good news is Leddy is on the road trip now, which means he could return as early as Saturday.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville reunited Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa and the moved paid off.
The trio combined for four goals and four assists as Chicago stretched its win streak to three games.
Toews led the way with two goals and two helpers. Hossa added a pair of goals while Sharp had two assists.
The win gives the Blackhawks a five point cushion on the Minnesota Wild in the Central Division while the loss leaves the Islanders just two points up on the Penguins in the Metropolitan Division.
Corey Crawford improved to 29-14-5 with a 38 save performance.
Nikolay Kulemin had the lone Islanders goal.
Michal Neuvirth stopped 26 shots in the loss.
Following Friday’s 3-1 win over the New Jersey Devils Marian Hossa joked that he hasn’t been this hot since his junior days with the Portland Winterhawks.
Hossa now has seven goals and an assist in four games and Chicago has picked up points in all four.
“Seems like things are going in for me so I try to put the puck at the net,” said Hossa. “I try to use my speed right now and obviously when got more confidence, more things can happen offensively.”
Prior to his current stretch, Hossa had just two goals in 15 games.
“On fire,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of Hossa. “He’s got it going. He’s got that touch.”
Hossa along with linemates Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad have combined for nine goals and eight assists in the four games
“I think right now Johnny, me and (Saad) we’re having lots of chances so we just continue to put the puck at the net,” said Hossa. “We try to do more things obviously when you have more confidence the puck is with you and you try to do a little more.
“At the same time, you try to keep things simple and put the puck at the net.”
The Blackhawks remain four points back of St. Louis for second spot in the Central Division. The Blues also have a game in hand.
Quenneville is keeping his expectations realistic with 26 games remaining.
“We always think we’d love to be in first place in our division, a lot comes with that, but at the same time, we’ve got to shoot for reality, and that’d be St. Louis,” he said. “And we’ve got work to do.”
It looks like the Chicago Blackhawks will be without the services of forward Kris Versteeg for longer than initially expected.
Versteeg was originally expected to miss four weeks with a left hand injury suffered during the Winter Classic.
“It’s probably going to be a little bit more than that,” said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville per the Chicago Tribune.
Versteeg underwent surgery on his hand and has missed nine games.
The 28-year-old had nine goals and 27 points in 34 games prior to the injury.
Bryan Bickell scored twice and Corey Crawford made 41 saves as the Chicago Blackhawks doubled up the Minnesota Wild 4-2 Thursday night.
Chicago has now won two of three while the Wild have lost three straight.
“He was great. It was a goalie win,” said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville post-game. “They were the better team tonight, for sure. We dodged a bullet.”
Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane had the other Chicago goals.
Jason Zucker and Jason Pominville had the goals for the Wild while Niklas Backstrom made 16 saves.
“We want to put as much negative behind us as we can,” said Pominville. “Tonight was a big step in the right direction.”
The loss came just a day after Wild head coach Mike Yeo had a meltdown during the team’s practice.
Yeo was particularly impressed by the play of Jordan Schroeder, who was recalled by the Wild on Thursday.
The 24-year-old had seven shots on goal while playing 9:49 in the loss.
“He showed me something tonight,” said Yeo. “I actually liked his game earlier in the year. I was very impressed with his game tonight. I thought his speed was noticeable.”