NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, February 7th (All times Eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (8-0-2) at Phoenix Coyotes (4-4-2), 9 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Raffi Torres and Marian Hossa will share the same ice for the first time since their infamous collision in last year's playoffs, as the Chicago Blackhawks visit the Phoenix Coyotes in Thursday's battle at Jobing.com Arena.
Torres ended Hossa's season last spring when he launched himself into the air and drilled the unsuspecting Chicago forward with a shoulder to the head. The vicious check occurred in Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinals, a series Phoenix wound up winning in six games.
The dirty hit originally earned a Torres a 25-game suspension, but that ban was reduced to 21 games after an appeal. The Coyotes forward finally made his season debut on Feb. 4.
As for Hossa, he would have missed a considerable amount of this season if the lockout hadn't wiped out the first few months of the campaign. The Slovakian star appears no worse for wear in 2013, posting 10 points (6 goals, 4 assists) in his first 10 games of the season.
Hossa said he doesn't hold any grudges against Torres, but his Chicago teammates will likely have a close eye on the Phoenix enforcer.
"I don't care," Hossa told reporters on Tuesday. "It's a thing you don't forget. Like I said, you know I move the page, and it's another season. I just try to focus on my game.
"It's just another game and I think it's going to be a normal game. I don't expect anything."
The Blackhawks and Coyotes already met once this season, but Torres was still suspended for Chicago's 6-4 win in the desert on Jan. 20. Hossa had two goals in that victory, the Blackhawks' fourth win in the last seven regular-season meetings between the clubs.
Chicago is off to a stellar 8-0-2 start to the season and has won its last two games, including a 5-3 triumph Tuesday evening in San Jose. Patrick Kane scored twice to help the Blackhawks earn the road win and he now has six goals and a team-high 15 points on the season. Kane has registered a point in nine of his 10 games this season.
Marcus Kruger also had a goal and an assist while Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw each scored for the Blackhawks. Corey Crawford gave up all three goals on 33 shots for Chicago, which has garnered at least one point in all 10 games this season.
The victory improved Chicago's road record to 6-0-2 this season. Thursday's game in Phoenix is the fifth stop on a six-game road trip that is scheduled to end Sunday in Nashville.
The Coyotes also have wins in their last two games and the club has recorded at least a point in five straight contests, going 3-0-2 during that stretch.
Phoenix is coming off Monday's 2-1 win over the visiting Minnesota Wild. Martin Hanzal netted the winner in the second period and Mike Smith stopped 21 shots to help Phoenix pull out the close victory.
Lauri Korpikoski registered the other goal for the Coyotes after redirecting the puck past Niklas Backstrom. He has four goals this season and each of them have come against goaltenders from his native Finland.
Phoenix, which is 4-2-1 as the host this season, is capping a three-game homestand on Thursday.
02/07 10:36:33 ET