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Blackhawks host Bruins in Cup rematch

(SportsNetwork.com) - A rematch of last season's Stanley Cup Finals is on tap Sunday in the Windy City, as the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks host the Boston Bruins in a matinee showdown at United Center.

Chicago ousted the Bruins in six games last spring to win its second Stanley Cup title in four seasons. Boston had a chance to push the series to seven games, but blew a 2-1 lead in the final 1:14 of regulation in Game 6 at TD Garden to allow the Blackhawks to clinch the title with a 3-2 win.

Today's tilt is the first encounter between the clubs since Chicago's thrilling comeback win in Beantown. Both teams enter the contest leading their respective divisions, with Boston one point ahead of Tampa Bay for first in the Atlantic and Chicago four ahead of St. Louis atop the Central.

Although the Bruins, who won a recent Cup of their own in 2011, came up short in last season's championship battle, the club has gotten the better of Chicago in the recent regular-season meetings. The Bruins have claimed three of their past four games in the Windy City and also have taken two straight and six of the last eight encounters overall.

This afternoon's matchup is the first regular-season meeting between these clubs since Boston recorded a 3-2 shootout win at the United Center on Oct. 15, 2011.

The Blackhawks will try to post consecutive victories for the first time since the calendar flipped to 2014 when they take the ice today at United Center.

Chicago last won back-to-back outings by beating New Jersey and Colorado on Dec. 23 and 27, respectively, but the defending Stanley Cup champions have been unable to string together two wins since then, going 4-1-5 over the last 10 games.

The Blackhawks have won two of their last three games and are coming off Friday's impressive win over the Anaheim Ducks, who had won eight straight and 18 of 19 games before dropping a 4-2 decision in the Windy City.

Marian Hossa scored a pair of goals, including a key empty-net score in the final eight seconds, as Chicago cooled off the visiting Ducks. Hossa also scored short-handed midway through the opening period and Kris Versteeg followed with a goal in the first to stake the Blackhawks to a 2-0 lead at the end of 20 minutes.

Bryan Bickell made it a 3-0 game with 9:47 left in the third, but Ryan Getzlaf scored with 6:13 remaining for the Ducks and Kyle Palmieri made it a one-goal game just 53 seconds later.

Anaheim went with an extra skater twice over the final minute-plus of regulation, but were unable to get the equalizer before Hossa put the crucial insurance goal into the empty cage.

"I thought we had a great start and we played the way we wanted to play," said Chicago coach Joel Quenneville.

Corey Crawford made 19 saves, winning for the first time since Nov. 29. Crawford, who missed nearly a month of action with a lower body injury before returning to the ice on Jan. 2, was 0-3-4 in his previous eight outings.

Chicago is capping a four-game homestand today and is 17-3-7 as the host this season.

Boston also enters Sunday having won two of its last three games and the club is coming off Thursday's 4-2 victory in Dallas. It was only the second win in the past five outings for the Bruins.

Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Milan Lucic each posted a goal and an assist to lead the way in Thursday's win. Brad Marchand also scored while Chad Johnson made 32 saves for the Bruins.

"Our whole game had collapsed, but our game was good all-around tonight," said Boston head coach Claude Julien. "Much better compete level from everyone."

Tuukka Rask expects to get the start in net today for the Bruins, as he takes on Crawford in a duel between the No. 1 goalies from last spring's Cup battle.

Boston has won two straight on the road to improve its away record this season to 12-10-0.

01/19 10:38:20 ET