Blackhawks looking to break skid vs. Jets

Blackhawks looking to break skid vs. Jets

WINNIPEG, Manitoba – The Blackhawks reversed their regular-season woes against the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night. Now they’ll try to do the same against the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night.

The Blackhawks have lost all four games to the Jets this season. Creating offense against Winnipeg has been a problem — it took them until Jan. 26 to score more than one goal against the Jets, and that was a 5-3 loss. In that game the Blackhawks finally fought their way to the net against a Winnipeg group that usually keeps them boxed out.

“We’ve done a pretty good job on this trip of finding a way to get screens, second opportunities by getting there,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Tough loss last game. The first three games we didn’t play very well. Give them credit in all four games but certainly a tough loss against them last time. It looked like we were going to get something out of that game.”

The Blackhawks have won three in a row coming into this one and would like to put an end to the Jets’ hold on them much like they did the Wild’s.

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“Obviously for us it’s huge points-wise to try and get that extra point or two, edge-wise, against Minnesota,” Jonathan Toews said. “For us, we had a really rough season against Minnesota last year and we wanted to play better than we played against them in the first game of the year. So same goes for Winnipeg. It’s a team that has had a lot of success against us. We need to prepare better, we need to come out and have much more respect for that team and what they can do. They have a lot of offense and a lot of ability and they always play great in their building. We’ll have to be ready for that and bring our best game.”

Corey Crawford will get the start. Marian Hossa took the morning off but is expected to play.

Broadcast information

Time: 7 p.m.

TV: CSN

Live stream: CSNChicago.com

Blackhawks forward lines

Nick Schmaltz -Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik

Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane

Dennis Rasmussen-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa

Ryan Hartman-Tanner Kero-Vinnie Hinostroza

Defensive pairs

Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson

Michal Kempny-Brent Seabrook

Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender

Corey Crawford

Injuries

Michal Rozsival (lower body)

Jets forward lines

Andrew Copp-Mark Scheifele-Blake Wheeler

Nikolaj Ehlers-Bryan Little-Patrik Laine

Shawn Matthias-Adam Lowry-Joel Armia

Mathieu Perreault-Nicolas Petan-Drew Stafford

Defensive pairs

Tobias Enstrom-Dustin Byfuglien

Josh Morrissey-Jacob Trouba

Ben Chiarot-Paul Postma

Goaltender

Connor Hellebuyck

Injuries

Tyler Myers (lower body), Marko Dano (lower body)

Tanner Kero latest to try and fill Artem Anisimov's skates

Tanner Kero latest to try and fill Artem Anisimov's skates

PITTSBURGH – Tanner Kero's been thrown into a lot of different situations in his time with the Blackhawks, be it third- or fourth-line center or penalty kill.

But with Artem Anisimov out, the second-line center spot has become new top-line, left-wing spot: The Blackhawks will keep trying guys out until they find one that works. Kero's the latest to get that opportunity, and since it worked well on Monday, he'll be there again on Wednesday.

Kero will center Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane again when the Blackhawks host the Pittsburgh Penguins. The line had a good start to Monday's game against the Lightning in Tampa, scoring the team's first two goals — Kero assisted on Panarin's opener.

Coach Joel Quenneville liked Kero's first go-around there.

"Defensively he's in a good spot — he's usually in a reliable spot in his own end — he made a couple of nice plays offensively and didn't change his game too much," Quenneville said. "It's not easy playing with guys at that next level. It's certainly a great challenge and a great opportunity, so I thought he did a great job, took advantage of it. We'll see how he does going forward but we'll keep him in there for [Wednesday's] game and that gives us some more options."

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Learning on the fly can be part of a rookie season, especially when injuries arise. Jonathan Toews said Kero's handled everything well this season.

"Come to think of it, it's one of those little things that maybe goes over my head but he's definitely one of those versatile players who's as consistent as ever," Toews said. "He has, for his age, an incredible level of maturity and he carries that with him wherever he goes. You're seeing offensive improvement, too. He was making some good plays with Bread Man and Kaner. He's showing he can do it all and I think his work ethic and attitude's a source of that success."

Earlier this season Kero was with guys like Ryan Hartman and Vinnie Hinostroza. They were all familiar with each other from their Rockford days, and that showed. Playing with two guys you don't know so well? It's a bit of a challenge, and one the three talk out. But ultimately, Kero said you have to rely on your instincts. 

"You go over things before the game and on the bench, get a feel for what you might want to do. But then you just have to play hockey," Kero said. "You have to trust your game, make plays. You know they're going to make plays with the puck so you try to use your speed and get open and try to go to the net, create space for them and a little traffic in front and try to capitalize on opportunities."

Anisimov will be out another 1-2 weeks. Asked if Anisimov has started skating back in Chicago yet, Quenneville said, "I don't think so but I'm not positive. But he's progressing." Filling Anisimov's skates isn't easy, as evidenced by the Blackhawks' search for his temporary replacement. Kero is the third guy to get that shot, and he took advantage of his first showing.

"Obviously it's a great opportunity to play with two great players," Kero said. "You just try to do everything you can and do the little things right."

Briefly

- Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith didn't practice on Tuesday but both are expected to play against the Penguins.

- Corey Crawford gets the start against Pittsburgh.

- Hartman, scratched after a rough game against the Florida Panthers, is probably back in against the Penguins.

Blackhawks sign prospect Matheson Iacopelli to entry-level contract

Blackhawks sign prospect Matheson Iacopelli to entry-level contract

The Blackhawks officially agreed to terms with prospect Matheson Iacopelli on a two-year entry-level contract that begins next season and runs through the 2018-19 campaign.

He will report to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

The 22-year-old forward recently completed his sophomore season at Western Michigan, where he scored a team-high 20 goals and added 16 assists in 40 games. It was a huge bounce-back year after recording only one goal and six assists in 27 games during his freshman season.

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A third-round pick (No. 83 overall) by the Blackhawks in 2014, Iacopelli possesses a dangerous shot and is a big-bodied winger at 6-foot-3, 206 pounds. His two-way game still needs fine-tuning, something he will certainly work on in Rockford, but he gives the IceHogs another much-needed scorer.

Iacopelli is the fourth Blackhawks prospect to sign this season out of college, joining John Hayden, Anthony Louis and Luc Snuggerud.