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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, January 20th (All times Eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (1-0-0) at Phoenix Coyotes (0-1-0), 10 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Marian Hossa saw his 2012 postseason come to an early end thanks to an illegal hit from Phoenix's Raffi Torres. Unfortunately for the Chicago Blackhawks, they followed suit a few games later.
Hossa and the Blackhawks look for some revenge on Sunday night as they visit the Coyotes.
After the Coyotes won three of four versus the Blackhawks during the regular season, Pacific Division-winning Phoenix took on sixth-seeded Chicago in the Western Conference quarterfinals. The series took a drastic shift when Hossa was laid out in Game 3 on a hit from Torres.
Hossa exited the United Center arena on a stretcher after Torres left his feet to deliver a hit to the forward's head. Hossa did not have the puck and Torres was not penalized, but was eventually handed a 25-game suspension by the league.
Though the ban has since been reduced, Torres is still slated to sit out the first eight games of this season to finish up the suspension.
Chicago went on to lose the series in six games, while Phoenix advanced to the conference finals before losing in five games to the Los Angeles Kings.
Hossa made his return to the ice on Saturday against the Kings and scored twice while adding an assist in a 5-2 win.
"Me personally, I kind of went slow and tried to build my confidence again. I haven't played for a long time like some other guys, especially after the concussion. As the game went on I started feeling more confident, more comfortable on the ice," noted Hossa.
Hossa was among three first-period goal scorers for the Blackhawks, with Patrick Kane and Michael Frolik also lighting the lamp. Jonathan Toews scored 76 seconds into the second period to give Chicago a commanding lead and Corey Crawford ended with 19 saves.
"Nice win. We knew it was going to be tough," said Kane. "It was nice to get a 3-0 lead early. Everyone is going to play their best against the Cup champion. It's a good start."
Chicago is opening the shortened season by playing 10 of 12 on the road and lost forward Daniel Carcillo to a lower-body injury on Saturday. He is expected to "miss some time," according to the club.
Phoenix, coming off its first ever division title, lost its opener on Saturday, falling 4-3 to the Dallas Stars.
The Coyotes were playing their first game since Ray Whitney left as a free agent. He led Phoenix with 77 points a season ago before signing with the Stars over the summer. Whitney had a goal and an assist against his former team on Saturday.
Radim Vrbata posted two goals and an assist while Lauri Korpikoski also scored for the Coyotes. Mike Smith gave up four goals on 26 shots in the loss.
"It's a tough way to lose and uncharacteristic for our team," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "It's the first game coming out, you have to expect some mistakes, but we certainly need to clean up those errors."
Following the road loss, the Coyotes will next play two straight and five of their next six at home and have won four of their last six as the host versus the Blackhawks.
01/20 10:46:58 ET