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Friday, August 12

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Blackhawks Wed Dec 10 2008

Senators Not for Sale

As Chicagoans are engrossed in the corruption of their Governor, a group of Senators will be trying to steal a victory at the United Center tonight against the Blackhawks. After struggling to start the season, Ottawa is riding a 4-1-1 streak in their last 6 games under the play of goalie Alex Auld. However, slated to start in net tonight is Martin Gerber, who has missed the last 12 games with an injury, and will be facing a tough environment in the revitalized UC.

The Hawks have built an impressive home record of 8-1-4, with the help of 13 consecutive sellout crowds backing them, and are looking to build upon that stat before closing the month with 6 of their last 8 games on the road. In their previous game against the Phoenix Coyotes Sunday, the Blackhawks lit the lamp for 7 goals in the first 28 minutes of the game, in the process causing the goal horn to malfunction. Winger Andrew Ladd lead the Hawks with 4 points, while Ben Eager chipped in 2 goals in the dominant win. The outburst was the most goals the team has scored this year, as they took out their frustration from a tough 5-4 shootout loss in Detroit the night before, the team's 7th loss in an OT/shootout situation. Chicago gave up a 4-2 lead in the third period for their 2nd consecutive loss to the defending champs, despite Jonathon Toews' highlight reel goal.

While Gerber will be returning in net for Ottawa, the Blackhawks will also have a familiar goalie back in Nicolai Khabibulin, only on the bench. Habby has missed the past 5 games due to injury, and while dressing tonight, is expected to see his return to action Friday in Colorado. Another change is the callup of forward Pascal Pelletier from Rockford, who will replace rookie of the year candidate Kris Versteeg for the night. Versteeg was suspended one game following an altercation in the waning moments of the 7-1 victory over Phoenix after picking up an instigator penalty. Versteeg has been one of the Hawks biggest surprises so far this season, earning top-line minutes and leading all rookies in scoring, and Chicago will need to adjust quickly to counter a Senators team that is starting to come together.

In other injury news, forward Adam Burish was placed on IR after missing 6 games with a broken toe, and defenseman James Wisniewski is expected to start his season Friday after rehabbing from off-season knee surgery. Wiz's return will help shore up the blueliners and may make defenseman Brent Sopel expendable once Aaron Johnson is healthy. Sopel's possible departure could be the first move in an effort to free up money for a 2nd line center, including free agent and longtime Maple Leaf Mats Sundin, who is known to have spoken with GM Dale Tallon regarding his availability.

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