Marian Hossa is veering toward Jim Kelly territory and the Blackhawks---and the Slovak veteran himself---are doing as much as they can to end the run.

                             Kelly’s Bills lost four Super Bowls. Hossa, 31, was been on the losing side in consecutive Stanley Cup Finals, first with the Penguins and then with the Red Wings, before signing a 12-year, $62.8-million contract last summer with the Hawks.

                            “Relief…definitely relief,”  Hossa said after snapping a loose puck in front above Flyers goaltender Michael Leighton for his first goal since May 5th and first of this series in Chicago’s 2-1 win in Game 2 on Monday. The right wing, who has scored 40 goals three times and 39 once in his 12-year NHL career, also had two assists in Game 1.

                             Heading into tonight’s Game 3 against the Flyers at Wachovia Center , Chicago held serve at home and had a 2-0 edge in the best-of-seven series.

                                      Something has to give in the swing game: The Hawks had won seven straight on the road; the Flyers were 7-1 at home. Game 4 is here Friday.  

                            “If you ask all 30 teams in the league if they want Hoss there, I think everyone would take him gladly,” Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said today. “We’re lucky to have him on our team. Everyone knows him because he scores 40 goals a year. But I think he’s one of the best two-way wingers in the league and I can tell you that because I play with him, so I know firsthand. He’s a great locker room guy. The fact that he’s been to three Cup finals I think is a great thing. He’s been a big part of all three of those teams and we want to make sure we keep winning for him.”

                              Hossa’s numbers this season reflect his missing a month while recovering from off-season shoulder surgery. He finished with 24 goals in 57 games.

                              But it’s not as if the post-season has been particularly nettlesome for Hossa, whose younger brother Marcel, played three seasons with the Rangers.

                             In 116 playoff games, Marian Hossa has 34 goals and 56 assists for 90 points. Sixteen of those games---most with his former teams Ottawa , Pittsburgh and Detroit--- were against Philadelphia and he has recorded eight goals and 13 assists.

                             In fact, when the Flyers beat the Hawks 3-2 here in their lone meeting on March 12, Hossa registered a goal and assist. The other big guns---Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp---were held off the scoresheet.  

                            “I’m sure he’s excited about the third chance this year,” said Hawks coach Joel Quenneville. “He’s elevated our pace, our tempo, our skill level. We really like the way he has progressed in the playoffs. You have a lot more options with him on the ice. Defensively, he provides a lot of puck possession. Offensively, if he’s got the puck, he can make plays. That line has been a big factor.” 


                   Concerned about the increasing number of shootouts, at today’s general managers’ meetings, Detroit ’s Ken Holland proposed several ways of extending regular-season overtime from five to 10 minutes before the shootout, or going to 3 on 3. There was no consensus…Chicago’s Andrew Ladd, who sustained an upper body injury in the conference finals against San Jose, was again scratched….Former Rangers assistant general manager Don Maloney was voted GM of the year by his peers for his outstanding job in revamping the Phoenix Coyotes, who finished the regular season with 107 points, the third-most in the Western Conference.





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