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updated: 1/8/2012 11:10 PM

Hawks' Marcus Kruger gets closer to returning

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  • Hawks goalie Corey Crawford has some company in the net, Danny Cleary of the Red Wings, during the third period Sunday at the United Center. The Wings won 3-2 in overtime.

      Hawks goalie Corey Crawford has some company in the net, Danny Cleary of the Red Wings, during the third period Sunday at the United Center. The Wings won 3-2 in overtime.
    Associated Press

  • The Blackhawks' Patrick Sharp points after scoring a goal during the first period Sunday against the Red Wings.

      The Blackhawks' Patrick Sharp points after scoring a goal during the first period Sunday against the Red Wings.

 
 

Marcus Kruger took part in Sunday's morning skate with his Blackhawks teammates but still hasn't been cleared medically for contact.

Kruger missed his sixth straight game Sunday with a concussion first suffered on Dec. 20 against Pittsburgh from the check that earned Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland a three-game suspension.

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Kruger doesn't regret returning just six days later against Columbus and taking two more shots to the head in that game.

"I felt good for that (game)," Kruger said. "You don't want to miss this many games, but I hope to be back soon. Now it's just focusing on trying to get better and being ready to play."

There is no timetable for Kruger's return. He has skated three days in a row.

"There's been more pace each and every day, so that's a good sign," coach Joel Quenneville said.

The Hawks have missed Kruger the last two weeks centering the second line.

"You appreciate the consistency in his game and he's useful in a lot of ways," Quenneville said. "His production might not be high end, but his effectiveness is what you appreciate and his consistency in his game, positionally around the ice in the right spots."

Michael Frolik centered the second line against Detroit between Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp.

So far this season Quenneville has used Patrick Kane, Kruger, Brandon Pirri, Andrew Shaw and Frolik at center on the second line with Sharp and Ben Smith in spots.

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Defenseman Sean O'Donnell played in his 1,200th career game Sunday.

O'Donnell is the 90th player in NHL history to reach that level and the seventh active player, joining Nicklas Lidstrom, Jaromir Jagr, Teemu Selanne, Brian Rolston, Jason Arnott and Roman Hamrlik.

"I remember my first game vividly," said the 40-year-old O'Donnell, who broke in with the Kings as a teammate of Wayne Gretzky's. "It was in 1995 against Dallas and my first shift was against Mike Modano."

Good to go:

Defenseman Steve Montador returned to the lineup after missing three games with an upper body injury.

Montador was trying to play through his upper body problem before the Hawks decided to put him on injured reserve for a week.

"There were a few games there where it was just playing through it, getting better but not as quickly as we thought," Montador said. "Taking a few days like we did was a good thing."

Tip-ins:

Patrick Sharp reached the 20-goal mark for the sixth time in six full seasons with the Hawks. ... Coach Joel Quenneville said the club still was evaluating Daniel Carcillo's knee injury. Carcillo has served three games of his seven-game suspension. ... John Scott and Sami Lepisto were healthy scratches.

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