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With the Winter Classic behind them, the Chicago Blackhawks now await another challenge, this time without their leading scorer.
The Blackhawks won't have recently-named All-Star starter Patrick Kane on the ice as they try to avoid a third straight loss while looking to cool the surging Calgary Flames on Sunday night at the United Center.
Kane suffered a high-ankle sprain in Chicago's 4-0 loss at Detroit on Tuesday, but played two days later in the rematch against the Red Wings during the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field. Kane, who leads the team with 25 assists and 41 points, took three shots in that contest but failed to register a point for the third straight game.
"I have to fight through those things as time goes on," Kane told the NHL's official Web site. "You're never going to be completely healthy out there. It was tough for me (Thursday)."
It's uncertain if Kane, who along with teammates Jonathan Toews and Brian Campbell, were named starters for the Western Conference in this month's All-Star game, will miss any more time. This will be the first game the second-year star has missed in his brief NHL career.
Looking to bounce back from two tough losses and playing without last season's Calder Trophy winner, Chicago (20-8-7) faces an even greater challenge against a Calgary team that has won five in a row since losing 3-2 in overtime to the Blackhawks at home on Dec. 19.
"It's fun to be a part of (the Winter Classic). It's too bad we didn't get the two points that we needed," Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith said. "But we'll take the positives from it and get better for the next game."
The Blackhawks have outscored the Northwest Division-leading Flames 9-3 in winning both meetings between the teams this season. Martin Havlat had a goal and two assists in Chicago's 6-1 victory over Calgary (23-11-4) at the United Center on Nov. 9 and the same in front of 40,818 fans at Wrigley.
Cristobal Huet was pulled in favor of Nikolai Khabibulin after allowing six goals in just over two periods Thursday - two more than he gave up in his previous five starts. Though Huet's won his last two games versus Calgary, Khabibulin could make the start looking to improve on a 20-5-0 mark with two ties and a 2.06 goals-against average versus the Flames.
Calgary enters this contest coming off a 3-2 win at Nashville on Saturday afternoon to open a brief two-game road trip. The Flames are 7-0-3 since losing 4-1 at Montreal on Dec. 9 for their last loss in regulation.
Todd Bertuzzi scored with 23.4 seconds remaining in the third period and added an assist, while Craig Conroy assisted on the winner for his 500th career NHL point.
"Five hundred points in a league that I thought I would never get to play in is probably the most rewarding thing for me," said Conroy, who has three assists in his last two contests. "And to have it be the game-winner by Bertuzzi, what a great play by him."
Bertuzzi has three goals in seven games for Calgary, which is 7-1-1 away from home since losing four straight road contests in November.
Miikka Kiprusoff made 24 saves Saturday for his fifth straight victory and league-leading 23rd on the season. Though he was in goal for both losses against Chicago this season, Kiprusoff is 8-5-3 with one tie and 2.50 GAA versus the Blackhawks in his career.