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Blackhawks vs. Canucks preview: Kris Versteeg returns

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Former 'Hawks prospects make their Chicago debut with Canucks

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Kris Versteeg returns from suffering a broken hand as the Chicago Blackhawks hope to rebound from a disappointing loss in the opener of an eight-game homestand when they host the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday at the United Center.

Versteeg suffered the injury during the Winter Classic against the Washington Capitals and will skate on the second line alongside Patrick Kane and Brad Richards. Versteeg recorded nine goals and 18 assists prior to injury.

The Blackhawks were 4-5-1 during Versteeg's absence against teams in the playoff picture.

In the first meeting between the two teams this season, Jannik Hansen scored a hat trick and Ryan Miller stopped 24 of 25 shots for a 4-1 Canucks' victory in Vancouver on Nov. 23. Versteeg scored the lone Chicago tally on the power-play. The Blackhawks will also host the Canucks on April 2.

Chicago has dropped three of the past five meetings and post a 3-8-2 record over the last 11 meetings against Vancouver. The Blackhawks are also 0-3-2 in their last five at home against the Canucks.

Chicago's recent seven-game road trip was like the elevator business -- it had its ups-and-downs -- but they ended on a positive note with consecutive wins over Winnipeg and St. Louis. When they returned to the Madhouse on Madison it wasn't so pretty, that's unless Marian Hossa had the puck. They fell 3-2 to the Arizona Coyotes in a shootout.

Hossa scored two goals, while Jonathan Toews recorded the lone assist on both of his tallies. Antti Raanta stopped 27 shots through the extra frame, but yielded two goals on three attempts in the tiebreaker. It was Raanta's first home in awhile.

The Blackhawks power-play has fallen off a cliff. It is 1-for-13 on the man-advantage in the past six outings, including an 0-for-4 mark against Arizona.

Corey Crawford will get the start in net.

Opponent Breakdown: Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver is 3-5-0 over their last eight games, and sit in second spot of the two wild card berths in the Western Conference.

The Canucks fell 5-3 in Minnesota on Monday. It was the Wild's sixth straight victory over Vancouver as they moved within two spots of the playoffs. Zack Kassian and Shawn Matthias each scored for the second straight game and Ryan Stanton also potted a goal for Vancouver.

Ryan Miller, who was coming off a 31-save shutout performance against the Pittsburgh Penguins, allowed all five goals on 18 shots through less than 30 minutes of play. Eddie Lack made 14 saves in relief.

Nick Bonino sustained a lower-body injury during the second period when he blocked a shot. Bonino didn't return and was in a walking boot after the game. He did not practice Tuesday or Wednesday.

Former Blackhawks' seventh-round pick Radim Vrbata has been a bright spot for the Canucks this season, scoring at least a point in his last six outings (2G, 5A). Vrbata leads the team with 20 goals, including eight on the man advantage. He also scored in the last game against Chicago. After 14 years, the Swedish Sedin twins are still producing in Vancouver. The Identical twin duo has posted 44 points this season. Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin both skate on the top line with Alexandre Burrows.

Another former Blackhawk Adam Clendening, who sat out Monday's game as a healthy scratch, could face his former team for the first time since being traded.

Vancouver is 15-9-2 on the road and have lost two straight away from Rogers Arena. The Canucks did not announce a starting goaltender but if Ryan Miller is between the pipes, it would be his 600th NHL career game.

Injury Report

Chicago: Trevor van Riemsdyk (knee)

Vancouver: Nick Bonino (lower-body), Frank Corrado (illness), Kevin Bieksa (hand) and Brad Richardson (lower-body)

Game Information

When: 7 p.m. CT

Where: United Center


Radio: WGN-720

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