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Robin Lehner nears return for Blackhawks, who reassign Kevin Lankinen to AHL

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Dylan Strome will not play against the Predators on Thursday.

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at Chicago Blackhawks Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Robin Lehner will be back in uniform Thursday when the Blackhawks host the Predators at the United Center, but it’s unknown if he’ll start.

Lehner, who is 12-7-4 with a 2.92 goals-against average and .922 save percentage, suffered a right knee injury in a 7-5 loss Jan. 2 in Vancouver. It was his fourth straight start as he emerged as the team’s No. 1 goaltender. He practiced Tuesday and Wednesday, and said he was ready to play.

Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said he’d make a decision on whether Corey Crawford or Lehner will start against Nashville on Thursday. Crawford has allowed two goals in each game while making at least 21 saves in two starts since Lehner went down.

Another sign Lehner is healthy enough to play is Chicago reassigned Lankinen to the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL on Wednesday afternoon. It was the second time this season the Blackhawks recalled Lankinen, who was also brought up on emergency basis Dec. 2 when Lehner was out with an illness, but haven’t needed him to see game action.

Lankinen, who was named to his first career AHL All-Star Game earlier this month, is 7-7-1 with a 3.17 GAA and .905 save percentage in 15 AHL games this season.

Strome update

Dylan Strome will not for the Blackhawks on Thursday because of a right ankle injury.

Colliton did not have a firm update on the forward, who was injured after he fell over Flames defenseman Oliver Kylington 8:16 into the second period. He has 30 points (10 goals, 20 assists) in 40 games.