Stars vs. Blackhawks Preview

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Chicago, Illinois (AP) - The Chicago Blackhawks were counting on top forward Patrick Kane and goaltender Marty Turco to help lead the franchise back to the Stanley Cup finals.

While the Blackhawks are going to have to figure out ways to win without Kane for the next three weeks, they've had no trouble getting by with an ineffective Turco for the last three.

Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Blackhawks -146 money line NHL odds favorites for Wednesday's game against the Stars. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 56% of more than 363 bets for this game have been placed on the Blackhawks -146.

Chicago takes the ice for the first time since a significant injury to Kane's leg when they face the Dallas Stars, Turco's former team, Wednesday night.

Kane was hurt on a check by Calgary's Cory Sarich 46 seconds after the opening faceoff in a 4-2 win Sunday. The Blackhawks (15-12-2) announced Tuesday that Kane could miss up to three weeks.

"We're hoping that's the maximum," coach Joel Quenneville told the Blackhawks' official website.

Despite Kane's early exit, Chicago managed to win for the fourth time in five games, scoring all its goals via the power play.

"We found a way to win, and we'll have to do that in the future without Kaner," captain Jonathan Toews said.

"We've found a way to play without some or our top players, like Soupy (defenseman Brian Campbell) and Hoss (Marian Hossa), and know we don't have a choice. We'll do it without Kaner.''

This is the second major injury for Chicago, as Hossa is expected to be sidelined at least another two weeks because of a lower-body injury.

The injury to Kane, however, may prove tougher to overcome.

Kane, who scored the series-clinching goal in last season's Stanley Cup finals, has missed only three games since being chosen No. 1 in the 2007 draft. He has 11 goals and 16 assists this season, and Chicago is 4-7-2 when he doesn't record a point.

Kane had five goals in four games against the Stars in 2009-10 to help the Blackhawks split the season series. He scored four of those goals in two games against Turco, who spent his first nine seasons with Dallas (16-8-2).

The Blackhawks signed Turco to a one-year contract over the summer in hopes the 35-year-old could provide stability in goal. The three-time All Star hasn't lived up to expectations, however, and his status for Wednesday is uncertain.

His 2.90 goals-against average is a career worst, and he's given up 14 goals in losing three straight starts since his last win Nov. 17.

Chicago hasn't suffered because of Turco's poor play thanks to Corey Crawford, who started in net for the fourth time in five games Sunday and made 24 saves. He has posted a 1.98 GAA in winning his last six outings.

While Turco is struggling with the Blackhawks, his replacement with Pacific Division-leading Dallas is playing better than most expected.

Kari Lehtonen's 2.59 GAA is his best since his first full season with Atlanta in 2005-06, and he ranks among the league leaders with 13 victories.

He stopped 27 shots in a 3-2 shootout loss to Columbus on Monday that snapped the Stars' winning streak at six, one short of tying a franchise record. Lehtonen had a 1.73 GAA in winning his four previous starts for Dallas, which is a Western Conference-best 8-1-2 since Nov. 16.

"We're playing with a lot of confidence right now and doing a lot of good things, so we need to just let this one fly by, go into Chicago and have a good start," left wing James Neal told the Stars' official website. "We have to keep playing good on the road."

Dallas, 3-0-1 in its last four road games after losing its previous four away from the American Airlines Center, has dropped six of eight at Chicago.
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