Chicago (30-10-3) at Boston (22-13-7)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Boston, MA
Temp: 75° F
  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Thu Jan 7, 2010
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Marian Hossa(notes) is heating up in time to help the Chicago Blackhawks face their most challenging road stretch of the season.

The team’s prized free-agent pickup looks to continue his strong play as the Blackhawks try for a fifth consecutive victory Thursday night against the Boston Bruins.

Hossa posted his second straight two-goal game a 4-1 home win over Minnesota on Tuesday. Hossa, who had one goal in his previous nine games prior to his last two, has 10 in 21 contests after missing the first 22 for his new team while recovering from shoulder surgery.

“Obviously coming to a new team it takes a little time to adjust to the chemistry,” said Hossa, who signed a 12-year, $62.8 million contract with Chicago after scoring 40 goals for Detroit last season. “Right now we are finding each other more and more for scoring opportunities and things are going in right now.”

Hossa has seven points his last four games and the surging Blackhawks (30-10-3) will need his production to continue the rest of the month. Chicago plays 10 of the next 12 on the road, including an eight-game trip to end the month. Hossa has 16 career goals versus Boston, but just three assists in his last seven contests against the Bruins.

Chicago, which has won 14 of 18 overall, is 10-6-2 away from home and has won four of six on the road.

“We like the way we’re playing,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Ask me at the end of that eight-game road trip we got coming up at the end of the month and we’ll have a better idea.”

Though Chicago snapped a four-game losing streak to the Bruins (22-13-7) with a 5-4 home shootout victory Dec. 18, it’s lost two in a row and four of five at Boston.

Cristobal Huet(notes) made 19 saves for his fourth straight win Tuesday, but backup Antti Niemi(notes) is expected to start this contest. Niemi, 10-2-1 with a 1.81 goals-against average, made 25 saves in his first appearance against Boston last month.

Patrick Kane(notes) had a power-play goal Tuesday for Chicago to extend his point streak (seven goals and two assists) to nine games. He has a goal with three assists in four career games against Boston.

The Bruins return to Boston for the first time since their 2-1 overtime Winter Classic victory over Philadelphia at Fenway Park on New Year’s Day. Boston went 1-1 on a brief road swing after beating Ottawa 4-1 on Tuesday.

Challenged by coach Claude Julien after a lackluster effort in a 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Monday, Blake Wheeler(notes) had two goals and an assist as the Bruins won for the sixth time in eight games.

“Character’s more than just coming back and tying games when you’re down by two,” said Wheeler, who has three goals and two assists in his last two games. “It’s about coming to the rink and playing every game like it’s the most meaningful game of the year and right now we’re getting to that point where you’ve got to be firing on all cylinders to get where you want to be.”

Tim Thomas(notes) made 27 saves to beat Ottawa for the 11th straight time and has a 1.25 GAA while winning three of his last four games overall.

Thomas, 12-9-5 with a 2.31 GAA this season, is 4-0-1 against Chicago and made 40 saves at the United Center last month, but allowed the Blackhawks to score on both shootout attempts.

David Krejci(notes), who has a goal and three assists in his last three contests, scored twice against Chicago in that contest.

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Thursday, Jan 7