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Dennis Gilbert to make NHL debut for Blackhawks vs. Blues

Chicago is 3-1 in the season series.

Rockford IceHogs/courtesy

Dennis Gilbert will make his NHL debut Wednesday night when the Blackhawks host the Blues at the United Center.

The Blackhawks recalled Gilbert earlier in the day from the AHL, where he scored five goals and 14 points in 59 games in his first pro season after his junior season at Notre Dame. The left-handed defenseman is 0-2 in his career at the United Center, with 6-1 loss to Denver in the 2017 NCAA Frozen Four then a 5-0 regular season loss to Wisconsin in 2018.

The 2015 third-rounder will wear No. 39, which was last worn by forward Kyle Baun in 2016.

Gilbert’s debut comes a day after the Blackhawks were eliminated from playoff contention for the second straight year with Colorado’s win over Edmonton. With Chicago out of contention and only three games left in the season, head coach Jeremy Colliton will turn to backup goaltender Cam Ward after Corey Crawford made 13 consecutive starts. Ward is 14-11-4 with a 3.27 goals-against average and .893 save percentage.

Veteran Chris Kunitz will also draw into the lineup after Dylan Sikura was sent down to the AHL on Tuesday. Sikura had eight assists in 33 games during his two stints in the NHL this season. He tallied two goals in his AHL return in the Rockford IceHogs’ 5-3 comeback win over San Antonio, the Blues’ affiliate.

Milestones to watch

Patrick Kane is two points shy of surpassing his season career high in points of 106 set in the 2015-16 season. Jonathan Toews set a new career-high of 74 (34 goals, 44 assists) in Chicago’s 4-3 overtime loss to Winnipeg on Monday. He’s tied for his career-high in goals from the 2008-09 season.

About the Blues

Offseason acquisition Ryan O’Reilly leads the Blues in scoring with 74 points (27 goals, 47 assists) in 79 games. Vladimir Tarasenko is the top goal scorer with 31. Tarasenko has scored three goals and an assist in his last five games.

Between the pipes, Jordan Binnington has helped the Blues climb from last place in the NHL on Jan. 2 to a playoff spot. The rookie goaltender is 22-5-1 with 1.85 GAA and .928 save percentage. Jake Allen, however, was the first goalie off the ice and is expected to start. He’s 19-7-7 with a 2.38 GAA and .905 save percentage.

Season series

The Blackhawks and Blues haven’t played each other since Nov. 14, when Colliton picked up his first NHL career coaching win. Chicago is 3-1 — two overtime wins — in the season series.

One More Shift

The Blackhawks will honor former goaltender and current team ambassador Tony Esposito and former forward Phil Esposito with “One More Shift” prior to the game.

Projected lineups


Caggiula — ToewsKane

DeBrincat — Strome — Perlini

Saad — Anisimov — Kahun

Kunitz — Kruger — Hayden

Keith — Gustafsson

Gilbert — Seabrook

Dahlstrom — Murphy




Schenn — O’Reilly — Tarasenko

Schwartz — Sundqvist — Perron

Maroon — Bozak — Thomas

Sanford — Barbashev — Steen

Dunn — Pietrangelo

Bouwmeester — Parayko

Gunnarsson — Bortuzzo



How to watch

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday

Location: United Center, Chicago

TV: NBC Sports Network