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Blackhawks vs. Hurricanes game preview 2015: Chicago, Marian Hossa return from Christmas break

The Hawks haven't lost in their first game back from the break since 2005.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Marian Hossa is expected to return from an upper-body injury when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Carolina Hurricanes in its 2015 home finale Sunday at United Center.

Hossa, 36, missed the Hawks' final two games before the Christmas break with the injury. Andrew Shaw skated in his spot at right wing on the top line, and tallied a game-tying goal against San Jose before Jonathan Toews scored the game-winner in overtime. Hossa has 25 goals and 57 points in 53 career games against Carolina.

The next game, the Hawks weren't so lucky as they slid into the break with a 4-0 loss at Dallas with their three-game win streak snapped in the process. The loss dropped the Hawks to 6-8-3 on the road, but they'll be happy to be back in Chicago (20-12-4) where they're 14-4-1 this season.

Defenseman Rob Scuderi is also back in the lineup after he left the game against the Stars after taking a puck to the face. Scuderi told reporters he had to get "a couple of stitches" and has a scab on his face where the puck hit him.

The Hawks, like any other team, used the break to have players recover from any lingering injuries. But what sets the Hawks apart is how they play in their first game after the break. The Hawks haven't lost in their first game back from the break since Dec. 26, 2005, a 4-3 overtime loss to Columbus.

Corey Crawford will start in net. He is 12-4-1 with a 1.65 goals-agianst average and has posted five shutouts. He has four straight wins against Carolina.



Defensive pairings:


Opponent Breakdown

Carolina Hurricanes | Record: 14-16-5 | 7th in Metropolitan Division | Goal Differential -19

Carolina won its first game out of the break with a 3-1 decision over visiting New Jersey with Justin Faulk scoring the game-winner and adding an assist on Joakim Nordstrom's goal, who also had an assist.

It will be the first game back in Chicago for former Hawks Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom, who were traded during the summer for salary cap relief. The Stanley Cup parade rapping duo take the top two left wing spots with Versteeg on the top line. It's not Versteeg's first time in an opposing sweater in Chicago as he also played for Toronto (2010-11), Philadelphia (2010-2011) and Florida (2011-2014).

Versteeg has five goals and 19 points in 34 games, while Nordstrom has tallied two goals and seven points in 24 games. Nordstrom registered three assists in 38 games for the Hawks last season.

The Canes are on the second half of a back-to-back and did not hold a morning skate. They're 5-2-1 on the second half of back-to-back games, but are 3-0-1 in its last four games.

Cam Ward is 3-1-2 with a 1.72 GAA and two shutouts in six games against Chicago, while Eddie Lack is 2-1-0 with a 2.93 GAA in three appearances.


Versteeg-E. Staal-Lindholm
Nordstrom-J. Staal-Nestrasil
Skinner-Rask-Di Giuseppe

Defensive Pairings:



Blackhawks: Marcus Kruger

Hurricanes: Nathan Gerbe, James Wisniewski

How to watch

When: 6 p.m. CT

Where: United Center, Chicago