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updated: 9/23/2013 11:51 PM

Blackhawks' Saad back at wing

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  • The Penguins' Kris Letang scores the first of his 2 goals on Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin in the third period Monday night.

      The Penguins' Kris Letang scores the first of his 2 goals on Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin in the third period Monday night.
    Associated Press

 
 

The Brandon Saad at center experiment apparently is over for now.

Saad played left wing on a line with Jonathan Toews in Sunday's win at Detroit but was out of the lineup Monday night at Pittsburgh.

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The Penguins defeated the Hawks 3-2 in a shootout despite Nikolai Khabibulin's strong play and 2 goals from Bryan Bickell.

The Hawks could be moving Saad back to wing as insurance against not having Marian Hossa to start the season.

Hossa missed his fifth straight preseason game with a sore back but is expected back on the ice at practice Wednesday, according to Hawks coach Joel Quenneville.

The Hawks still have Michal Handzus, Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger to play center. Plus, Brandon Pirri still is in the mix despite missing the first four games of the preseason with a lower-body injury.

Pirri had an assist Monday in his first preseason action.

"It's something we can still go back to," Quenneville told reporters when asked if the Saad at center experiment was over. "We've still got Handzus coming back and a lot of options. It's always there and something we can go back to."

Saad told blackhawks.com that he is a born winger.

"We've got guys coming back from injury, so they're putting me back on wing," he said. "I'll just take it as it comes. I'm still learning about center, but I'm a born winger."

Saad, a Calder Trophy finalist last season as a winger, could be slotted as the third-line left wing if Hossa is ready to play on opening night.

Bickell and Patrick Sharp are the top two left wings.

"I'll play wherever they want: first, second or third line," Saad said.

Quenneville said before the game Monday he considers five prospects competing for three spots.

Morin, Jimmy Hayes and Ben Smith could be the leading candidates at this point with Pirri right behind. Joakim Nordstrom also is in the mix.

Morin assisted on Bickell's second goal on a power play in the second period. The Hawks had been 0-for-20 on the power play in the preseason.

The Hawks held a 2-1 lead until late in the third period when Kris Letang tied it with 2:16 to play on a power play that resulted from a Theo Peckham high stick.

Roster cuts:

The Hawks on Monday assigned forwards Mark McNeill, Garret Ross and Alex Broadhurst, defensemen Dylan Olsen, Klas Dahlbeck and Adam Clendening and goaltender Kent Simpson to Rockford.

They formally sent forward Teuvo Teravainen to Jokerit of SM-liiga in Finland and forward Ryan Hartman to the Ontario Hockey League's Plymouth Whalers.

Defenseman Viktor Svedberg was released, and forward Kyle Beach was placed on waivers. Svedberg, however, will play at Rockford because that where he is signed.

The Hawks' roster now includes 23 forwards, 10 defensemen and three goaltenders.

•Follow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com.

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