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Blackhawks set to unite top guns on first line

Saturday, 05.25.2013 / 5:09 PM / News
By Corey Masisak  - NHL.com staff writer
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Blackhawks set to unite top guns on first line

Near the end of Game 4 with his club desperate for a goal, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville had Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp each on different lines.

After three straight contests where offense was a problem for the Blackhawks, Quenneville may put them all together at the start of Game 5 on Saturday night (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).

Sharp and Kane were on Toews' flanks when the Blackhawks went through line rushes at the morning skate inside United Center. Chicago needs a win against the Detroit Red Wings, or their rivals to the Southeast are going to claim this Western Conference Semifinals series in shocking fashion.

"They've played together in the past, and they've taken some shifts together [recently] here and there," Quenneville said. "I think they like playing with one another and we'll see how it goes."

Offense was never a problem during the 2012-13 season for the Blackhawks until this current three-game losing streak after taking Game 1. Kane has the only two goals Chicago has scored in those three contests.

Toews has not scored a goal in this postseason. Sharp, after leading the way in the opening round against the Minnesota Wild, has only an empty-netter in Game 1 to his credit.

"I think for us, we played a lot together at first, in my first couple of years in the League and we developed some chemistry," Kane said. "It was pretty good, we had a lot of offensive chances. I think we just have to remember how to play with each other; we haven't done it in a while, and hopefully we can get a good couple of shifts and get that chemistry back right away."

Quenneville will have the last change at home. He did not try to get Toews away from Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg and the top defense pairing of Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson in the first two games of the series, but that seems likely now.

Detroit coach Mike Babcock has said all along he didn't care if Zetterberg or Pavel Datsyuk matched up against the Chicago top line, which has typically included Toews, Marian Hossa and either Sharp or rookie Brandon Saad.

"We're going to get ready and be prepared," Babcock said. "We've got Datsyuk on one unit and Zetterberg on another unit. I assume Toews has to play against one of them and I assume [Michael] Handzus has to play against another."