Scott Darling will get the start and Vinnie Hinostroza returns to the lineup when the Blackhawks host the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at the United Center.
Darling came in to relieve Corey Crawford in the Blackhawks’ 4-2 loss to the Dallas Stars on Thursday but this will be his first start since Jan. 22 (vs. the Florida Panthers).
Meanwhile Hinostroza, who made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks in October, is back tonight after the Blackhawks recalled him on Sunday. Hinostroza leads the Rockford IceHogs with 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) in 41 games this season.
“It’s definitely a great opportunity,” said Hinostroza. “I definitely think I’m a lot more prepared. I played a lot more pro games and got to know the game a lot better. I think this time I’m for sure a lot more prepared than last time. I’m thankful and excited for the opportunity.”
Erik Gustafsson will be a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game. Coach Joel Quenneville said the young defenseman has to be more aggressive on the offensive attack much like he was when he first came up this season.
“He came in and played extremely well and as a young player, we’re not complaining about his game. He just wasn’t as involved in the attack in the offensive part from the back end. That’s something that’s noticeable and he can really enhance our team game with it,” Quenneville said. “He hasn’t been as active as he needs to be, and that’s one area where he can help himself and help our team game as well. Defensively he’s been OK but I think he brought us energy right off the bat with him involved in the attack and with the puck.”
The Blackhawks are trying to get at least one victory on what they figured would be a more successful home stand than it’s been. Instead they’re winless in their last three at the United Center (0-2-1).
“It’s not going to be an easy game,” Quenneville said. “We have to make sure we’re playing the right way. We want to salvage this home stand here and play the right way. We haven’t had our energy level, our pace to our game at that all-out level that we’re going to need tonight. It’d be nice to recapture that because you can feel the difference when it’s not there.”