Series (Game 2 of 6)

Series tied 3-3

Game 1: Thursday, October 8th
Red Wings3
Game 2: Sunday, December 20th
Red Wings0Final
Game 3: Wednesday, December 23rd
Red Wings0
Game 4: Sunday, January 17th
Red Wings3
Game 5: Sunday, March 7th
Red Wings5Final
Game 6: Sunday, April 11th
Red Wings3Final

Red Wings 0

(18-13-5, 41 pts)

Blackhawks 3

(23-8-3, 49 pts)

7:00 PM ET, December 20, 2009

United Center, Chicago, Illinois

1 2 3 T
DET 0 0 00
CHI 1 2 03

C. Huet (Blackhawks - G): Saves: 20, Save Pct.: 1.000

D. Keith (Blackhawks - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

B. Campbell (Blackhawks - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Red Wings-Blackhawks Preview


The last time the Chicago Blackhawks faced off with the Midwest's other Original Six club, the Detroit Red Wings still clearly had the edge in the teams' resurfacing rivalry.

But the Blackhawks will now try to prove they've become the team to beat in the Central Division -- and perhaps the Western Conference -- as they host the banged-up Red Wings on Sunday in a game that features Chicago winger Marian Hossa's first appearance against his former teammates.

The Blackhawks established themselves as one of the NHL's fast-rising franchises with a surge to the West finals last season after five straight seasons without a playoff appearance, but they were quickly eliminated in five games by Detroit.

The Red Wings also won the 2009 Winter Classic game at Chicago's Wrigley Field on New Year's Day and beat the Blackhawks 3-2 on Oct. 8 to open this season's series.

However, several injuries to key players have slowed Detroit (18-12-5) as it goes for a 19th straight postseason appearance, leaving the team tied for eighth in the West.

The Blackhawks (22-8-3) are tied for the conference lead with at least two games in hand on all of their pursuers.

"They're one of the top teams, if not the top team, in the NHL right now," Boston goalie Tim Thomas said after his Bruins lost 5-4 in a shootout at Chicago on Friday night.

Chicago has been especially good at the United Center, winning 12 of its last 13 there. Hossa has five goals and five assists in 11 games with his new club to boost an offense already featuring young stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, but the Blackhawks may be playing even better on defense.

They lead the NHL with a 2.06 team GAA thanks in part to the standout defensive pairing of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.

That could present problems for a struggling Red Wings offense that ranks among the league's bottom half with 2.7 goals per game after easily leading the league (3.52) last season.

Winger Johan Franzen has been out since suffering a torn left ACL in the previous meeting with Chicago, and leading scorer Henrik Zetterberg will miss a couple of weeks after separating his shoulder Thursday against Tampa Bay. Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall are missing from the Red Wings' defensive corps.

Detroit has also moved on without Hossa, who was injured for the teams' first meeting after signing a 12-year contract with Chicago this summer. In his lone season with Detroit, the winger had 71 points and 15 more in the playoffs as Detroit came within a game of its second straight Stanley Cup.

"I had a great time in Detroit. ... But with today's economy and the salary cap, it's really hard to sign star players," Hossa said after his departure in July. "Somebody just couldn't be able to sign and I guess that was me. That was basically a great year. It didn't finish how I would like. Now it is time to move on."

Jimmy Howard has supplanted Chris Osgood as Detroit's starting goalie, but Osgood may start Sunday after Howard allowed four goals on 21 shots in a 4-3 loss at Dallas on Saturday, which snapped the Red Wings' four-game winning streak.

Osgood made 32 saves in the October win over Chicago after going 4-1 with a 2.06 goals-against average against the Blackhawks in the 2009 West finals.

Cristobal Huet will likely be in net for Chicago after backup Antti Niemi struggled in the win over the Bruins. Huet shut out St. Louis with 27 saves in a 3-0 win Wednesday in his most recent start.

The teams will square off again in Detroit on Wednesday.