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Senators, Blackhawks try to turn season around

CHICAGO -- Two struggling teams will try to add a bright spot in the middle of dreary seasons when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night at the United Center.

Chicago (25-27-8) has one win in its past 10 games (1-8-1) and appears poised to be a seller before Monday's NHL trade deadline. The Blackhawks are on track to miss the postseason for the first time since the 2007-08 campaign.

Ottawa (21-28-9) is one of about a half-dozen teams with a worse point total than the Blackhawks. The Senators have 10 losses in their last 16 games and appear likely to miss the playoffs only one season after reaching the Eastern Conference finals and coming within one goal of reaching the Stanley Cup finals.

Players on both sides know that they cannot afford to give up on the season.

"Every season has its ups and downs and different obstacles," Blackhawks veteran forward Patrick Sharp said to the Chicago Sun-Times. "These last couple of weeks have maybe been as hard as it gets. But nobody's going to feel sorry for us. You've got to be a pro and keep fighting through it."

The same is true for Ottawa, which is coming off a 5-2 loss on the road to the Nashville Predators.

"We were right there," Senators coach Guy Boucher said to the team's official website after the game. "It's just too bad. It was just some bad bounces and some turnovers that normally don't happen, and it cost us. Sometimes you get turnovers and they don't cost you and you forget about them. Those ones cost us, and we've got to play the same way next game for 60 minutes and get rid of those turnovers and we should have a chance."

Blackhawks goaltender Anton Forsberg is expected to make his 21st start of the season. The 25-year-old from Sweden has posted a 6-12-3 record with a 2.96 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage. He won his only career start versus the Senators.

Ottawa goaltender Mike Condon is expected to make his 18th start on the opposite end of the rink. Condon, 27, is 4-10-4 with a 3.40 GAA and a .898 save percentage this season. In four career appearances against Chicago, he is 1-2-0, 3.19, .894.

This is the second and final meeting of the regular season. The Blackhawks cruised to an 8-2 win Jan. 9 at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa. Patrick Kane recorded five points (one goal, four assists) in the rout, while Jonathan Toews and Nick Schmaltz scored two goals apiece.

Kane, Toews and Schmaltz are at the top of the Blackhawks' scoring list for the season. Kane has 55 points in 60 games, while Toews and Schmaltz are tied with 40 points apiece.

Ottawa is led in scoring by Mark Stone, who has 50 points in 49 games. Erik Karlsson is next with 41 points from the blue line, and Mike Hoffman is third on the team with 39 points in 58 contests.

Chicago is 13-14-3 at home this season. Ottawa is 7-17-4 on the road.
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