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Blackhawks vs. Coyotes preview: Antoine Vermette returns to Arizona

Johnny Oduya returns from injury, Bryan Bickell back in lineup after a healthy scratch.

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Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Corey Crawford will start and Bryan Bickell returns to the lineup as the Chicago Blackhawks begin their father-son trip against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night.

Johnny Oduya will also return to the lineup from an upper-body injury. Bickell was a healthy scratch for Sunday's game.

The Blackhawks had won two straight and four of five before getting blanked Sunday by the visiting New York Rangers 1-0 in overtime. Crawford finished with 35 saves in the game and the power play unit went 0-for-4 in the loss.

The last time the Blackhawks scored on a power play was the on the penalty after Patrick Kane was injured Feb. 24. Chicago is 0-for-15 and with Arizona's 78.4 penalty kill, hopefully the Blackhawks can convert on the man-advantage.

[MORE: With offense in short supply, Crawford continues to carry Blackhawks]

Crawford has put the Blackhawks on his back since Kane went down. He has stopped 128 shots and is 3-0-1 in his last four starts. His record on the road has been impressive as well, going 14-6-1, including two shutouts, 1.94 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in 21 road contests. Crawford is 4-2-2 with a 2.74 goals-against average against Arizona in his career.

The Blackhawks and Coyotes are playing for the third and final time this season; Chicago took the opener 6-1 on Jan. 20 and lost 3-2 in a shootout on Feb. 9, with Antoine Vermette netting the game-winner. The win snapped a three-game home losing streak against the Blackhawks for the Coyotes.

[MORE: Blackhawks acquire Antoine Vermette via trade from Coyotes]

Chicago begins a difficult haul on the road tonight, playing two straight and six of its next seven on the road. The Blackhawks are 18-12-1 away from the United Center this season.

With 84 points, the Blackhawks are in third place in the Central Division, where they sit three points ahead of Minnesota and four points in back of second-place St. Louis.

Versteeg Toews Hossa
Saad Vermette Teravainen
Bickell Richards Sharp
Nordstrom Kruger Shaw

Daniel Carcillo and Andrew Desjardins look to be the healthy forward scratches.

Opponent Breakdown: Arizona Coyotes

The Coyotes are in the worse kind of stretch this season, having lost two straight and 12 of their last 13 games. Arizona sits only ahead of Edmonton in the Western Conference standings.

The Coyotes are 1-2-1 on a six-game homestand and fell to 10-18-5 at home this season with a 2-1 overtime loss to the Nashville Predators on Monday. Kyle Chipchura scored for the Coyotes and Louis Domingue stopped 35 shots in his second NHL start.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson leads the Arizona offense with a team-high 17 goals and 16 assists, including the helper on Chipchura's goal in Monday's game. He has an assist in each of his past two games and is fifth in the league with seven game-winning goals.

Mike Smith will be back in the crease for the Coyotes. He is 7-5-1 with a 2.91 GAA against the Blackhawks.

Injury Report

ChicagoPatrick Kane (collarbone)

Arizona: Lauri Korpikoski (lower-body), Connor Murphy (illness), Martin Hanzal (back) and Mikkel Boedker (spleen).

Game Information

When: 9 p.m. CT

Where: Gila River Arena

TV: WGN

Radio: WGN-720

For Chicago Blackhawks tickets, check out Ticketmaster. Follow Second City Hockey on Twitter at @2ndCityHockey and Like us on Facebook. You can follow Brandon Cain on Twitter at @BrandonMCain.