BLACKHAWKS (8-2-3) at JETS (5-7-2)
TV: NHLN-US, CBC, WGN
Last 10: Chicago 7-1-2; Winnipeg 3-5-2
Season series: This is the first of four meetings between the Chicago Blackhawks and Winnipeg Jets, new Central Division rivals. They meet again Nov. 6 at United Center. With the Jets still in the Eastern Conference last season and no cross-conference play, the last game between these teams was back on Oct. 13, 2011, when Patrick Kane had a goal and two assists in a 4-3 win for the Blackhawks.
Big story: The defending Stanley Cup champions might not have their game in complete order, but they were entertaining throughout the opening month of their title defense. Two of Chicago's past four games ended up with 6-5 final scores. Winnipeg will have its hands full trying to contain one of the NHL's top offenses.
Blackhawks: It's the start of a busy several days for Chicago, which goes home Sunday to face the Calgary Flames, travels to Washington on Monday to be honored by President Obama for winning the Cup and then heads back to United Center again for a return engagement with Winnipeg.
The Blackhawks have been off since Tuesday and probably needed that time to recover after a barnburner against the Ottawa Senators. Trailing 4-2 midway through the second period, they rallied for a 6-5 win behind a natural hat trick from captain Jonathan Toews, who will be playing a regular-season game in his hometown for the first time in his NHL career..
"I think there's a lot of games this season, whatever our [line] was, we were always creating something and [there were] some frustrating nights where it just didn't go in," said Toews, who also set up a Marian Hossa goal. "Guys were getting great chances and pucks didn't go in for us and we got nothing to show for it. So, it's nice as a line that we could get a few tonight."
Jets: Like its opponent, Winnipeg also enters Saturday's matinee off three days' rest, but the result Tuesday was a lot less satisfying for the Jets. Despite coming back twice from one-goal deficits, they suffered a tough 3-2 road loss to the St. Louis Blues.
Blake Wheeler's power-play goal and Bryan Little's shorthander had the Jets in position to grab at least a point from another of their division rivals. But a late penalty by defenseman Tobias Enstrom led to an Alexander Steen power-play goal with 59.4 seconds remaining in regulation.
"We're shooting ourselves in the foot, taking penalties with a couple minutes left," Little said in The Winnipeg Free Press. "It's frustrating. Our penalty kill had been good tonight for the most part. We've got to find a way to close these games out and at least give ourselves a chance."
Who's hot: Toews has five goals and four assists during a five-game point streak for the Blackhawks. Andrew Shaw scored twice against the Senators, including the game-winner. … Little and Wheeler have goals in consecutive games for the Jets.
Injury report: Chicago is without defenseman Michael Kostka (lower body) and center Michal Handzus (upper body). … Winnipeg defensemen Paul Postma (blood clot) and Jacob Trouba (upper body) and forward Jim Slater (lower body) are on injured reserve.
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