Mark McNeill will make his NHL regular-season debut and Corey Crawford gets the start in net when the Chicago Blackhawks visit the Carolina Hurricanes in their final game before the All-Star break Tuesday at PNC Arena.
Mark McNeill on debut: "It's gonna be a dream come true. It’s something you think about growing up as a kid, and that day is finally here."— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) January 26, 2016
McNeill, 22, was recalled Monday from the AHL and will skate at right wing on the fourth line. The 2011 first-round draft pick is coming off a six-game point streak in the AHL and has nine goals and 19 points in 29 games for the Rockford IceHogs. He will fill Jiri Sekac's spot, who did not travel with the team due to an illness.
Carolina (22-20-8) defeated Chicago (33-15-4) in the first game of the series 2-1 on Dec. 27, and since then the Hawks have gone 13-2-0, including a franchise-record 12-game win streak. Crawford made 25 saves in the first meeting against Carolina, and looks to continue his stellar play in net. He's won nine of his last 10 starts with a 1.40 goals-against average and .932 save percentage.
Patrick Kane remains on the cusp of setting a new season career-high in goals. The Art Ross front runner leads the league with 30 goals, 43 assists and 73 points. Kane's linemate Artemi Panarin leads all rookies with 17 goals, 29 assists and 46 points. Together the pair has racked up 119 points in 52 games.
Neither Duncan Keith nor Niklas Hjalmarsson participated in the morning skate, but will play after taking a maintenance day.
Hurricanes | Record: 22-20-8 | 52 points | 6th in Metropolitan Division
Carolina is on a roll of their own, winning six of nine since Jan. 8 to put themselves in contention for a playoff spot heading into the break.
Eddie Lack, who made 35 saves against Chicago, has become the starting goaltender since Cam Ward was placed on injured reserve with a concussion last week. Things were rocky at first with a 5-0 loss to Pittsburgh and a 4-1 defeat against the New York Rangers, but he posted a 32-save shutout against Toronto and made 33 saves in a 3-2 win over Calgary. He has won all three starts when allowing two or fewer goals.
Kris Versteeg, who was acquired along with Joakim Nordstrom from Chicago this season, scored twice against the Flames with Nordstrom adding a goal in his second straight contest. Versteeg's 20 assists are tied with Eric Staal for the team lead, and his 30 points rank second behind the offensive-minded defenseman Justin Faulk. The 23-year-old blue liner has found success on the man advantage with 12 goals, tying him with Dallas captain Jamie Benn for second in the league.
Versteeg-E. Staal-Di Giuseppe
Blackhawks: Marcus Kruger
Hurricanes: Brett Pese, Riley Nash, Cam Ward, James Wisniewski
How to watch
When: 6:30 p.m. CT
Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh, N.C.
TV: NBCSN, CSNC