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Blackhawks vs. Blues game preview: Antti Raanta starts in net

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St. Louis is 0-5-0 in their last 5 visits to the Madhouse on Madison; Goaltender Antti Raanta to start

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Blackhawks welcome their Interstate 55 rivals St. Louis to the United Center on Wednesday in a Central Division clash.

The Blues were looking good last spring when they jumped out to a 2-0 series lead over Chicago in the opening round of the playoffs. However, the Blackhawks won four straight to claim the series and knock of the Blues with a 5-1 rout at the Madhouse on Madison in Game 6.

The Blues have won two straight and four of their last five games, and are tied with the Nashville Predators for the top spot in the Central Division with 34 points. The Blackhawks are three points behind.

St. Louis took a 3-2 victory over Chicago on Oct. 25 at the Scottstrade Center. It was their fifth win in the last seven in regular-season. However, the Blackhawks boast a 10-0-2 record in the last 12 meetings at home, and that's not including the three-game streak in last spring's playoffs.

Chicago enters tonight's matchup on its second three-game winning streak since mid-November. The Blackhawks last picked up four straight victories from April 3-9 of last season. Their most recent victory came Saturday in Los Angeles over the 2014 defending Cup champion Kings.

Brad Richards scored twice to lead the Blackhawks to a 4-1 win at Staples Center. Richards was also eliminated by the Kings last season as a member of the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final. Daniel Carcillo and Brandon Saad also found the back of the net and Kris Versteeg contributed two assists.

Corey Crawford made 19 saves in his 14th consecutive start. There won't be another start from Crawford for two to three weeks after he suffered a foot injury while attending an concert, the goaltender informed the media Wednesday morning.

Antti Raanta will get the start, his first appearance since Oct. 25. Raanta is 0-1-1 with a 3.88 goals-against average in two career games against the Blues. The Blackhawks recalled Scott Darling on Tuesday to serve as the backup.

Last week, Chicago forward Patrick Sharp was excepted to return for this game but only returned to practice for the first time since suffering a right knee injury on Nov. 4. Sharp, who has three goals and six assists in 13 games this season, is day-to-day and could return to action later this week against Montreal.

Opponent Breakdown: St. Louis Blues

The Blues bring a new addition to their roster as Martin Brodeur signed a one-year deal on Tuesday. The 42-year-old joined the team last Wednesday on a tryout after Brian Elliot went down with a lower-body injury during a shootout loss to Ottawa on Nov. 25.

Brodeur won three Stanley Cups and the Vezina Trophy four times, but was not re-signed this offseason by the New Jersey Devils. The future Hall of Famer, is the NHL's all-time leader in wins (688), shutouts (124) and games played (1,259). Brodeur's record setting games played will stay at 1,259 at least for Wednesday as the Blues have slated Jake Allen.

Allen earned a shootout win in the Blues' most recent outing over the Minnesota Wild to start their road trip. Russian sensational Vladimir Tarasenko, who also scored in regulation with David Backes, netted the game-winner in the final round for a 3-2 victory. The 22-year-old leads St. Louis with 26 points (14G, 12A) through the first 24 games.

Allen will make his first career appearance against the Blackhawks. However, he is 3-0-1 in four consecutive starts dating back to Nov. 23. Over that span, he has posted a .911 SA. Jay Bouwmeester, who has missed four games with a lower-body injury, also won't play.

The Blues are 7-3-1 on the road and have won seven of their last 10 games.

Injury Report

Chicago: Corey Crawford (foot), Patrick Sharp (lower body) and Trevor van Riemsdyk (knee).

St. Louis: Steve Ott (groin), Brian Elliot (sprained knee) and Jay Bouwmeester (lower-body).

Game Information

When: 7 p.m. CT

Where: United Center

TV: NBC Sports

Radio: WGN-720

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