Blackhawks aim to rebound on road trip vs. Jets

( - The Chicago Blackhawks failed to open their seven-game road trip on a positive note, but the defending Stanley Cup champions will aim to bounce back when they visit the Winnipeg Jets in Thursday's clash at MTS Centre.

Chicago began its lengthy trek, which will take the club through the duration of November, with Tuesday's 5-1 setback in Colorado. It marked the second loss in three games for the Blackhawks, who have surrendered a total of 12 goals in their two most recent losses.

Chicago followed up a 7-2 loss in Nashville on Saturday with a 5-1 home victory the next night against San Jose, but couldn't carry the momentum into the opener of the road trip. The Avalanche scored three times in the opening period on Tuesday and built a 5-0 lead before Brandon Saad finally got Chicago on the board with 7:50 left in the third.

"I thought we gave a good push back in the second but we just couldn't finish up," Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "We have to get off to better starts. We have to nip this in the bud."

Chicago forward Marian Hossa sat out a third straight game Tuesday with a lower-body issue, but he could return tonight. Hossa has nine goals and six assists in 19 games this season.

Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford gave up three goals on seven shots in the first period on Tuesday before being removed in favor of rookie Antti Raanta, who saved 14 shots in relief in his NHL debut.

Crawford expects to get the start tonight and is 2-0 against the Jets in his career. He stopped 24-of-25 shots when Chicago downed a visiting Winnipeg club by a 4-1 score on Nov. 6.

Chicago has won six straight against the Jets in this series. The Blackhawks also have claimed four in a row on the road in this matchup, although only one of those victories have come since Winnipeg relocated from Atlanta prior to the 2011-12 season.

The former Atlanta Thrashers are hoping to avoid a third straight loss on Thursday. Winnipeg was on a season-best four-game winning streak before losing on back-to-back days against Minnesota and Calgary.

The Jets lost a 2-1 regulation decision Sunday in Minnesota and then dropped Monday's home test versus Calgary in a shootout. Sean Monahan scored in the eighth round of the shootout to give the Flames a 5-4 victory at MTS Centre.

Dustin Byfuglien and Bryan Little each had a goal and an assist in the loss, while Olli Jokinen and Michael Frolik also scored for the Jets. Al Montoya stopped 29 shots to take the loss.

Winnipeg trailed Calgary by a 2-1 score after 40 minutes and the Jets then scored three of the five goals in the third period to send the game to OT. Little scored with just 5.6 seconds remaining in regulation.

"It was a very strange game," said Winnipeg head coach Claude Noel. "I thought that either team could have won at any time. We chased the game, not only from the goals standpoint but I thought it was pretty wild in a lot of ways. I think either team could have got the two, we got the one. We'll take the one. It's not ideal but that's what we'll take."

The shootout loss dropped the Jets to 7-5-2 as the host this season. Winnipeg is playing the middle portion of a three-game homestand tonight and will close the residency with Saturday's test against Minnesota.