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Blackhawks' D Jones set to return on Saturday

Seth Jones Chicago Blackhawks Seth Jones - The Canadian Press

CHICAGO (AP) — The injury-depleted Chicago Blackhawks will get a boost with the return of top defenseman Seth Jones on Saturday night when they host the Dallas Stars.

Jones, who leads last-place Chicago and is fourth in the NHL with 25:25 of ice time per game, has missed 15 games with a shoulder injury.

Jones was hurt late in a 4-2 home loss to Washington on Dec. 10. The 29-year-old hasn’t scored this year on 60 shots on goal, but he has 11 assists.

Coach Luke Richardson said Jones, in the second year of an eight-year contact extension that pays $9.5 annually, will be paired with rookie Alex Vlasic.

“That will be a good help for Seth,” Richardson said. “Seth is just getting back in there and they’ve played well together earlier in the season. Two big rangy guys that can move the puck.”

The rebuilding Blackhawks have been hit hard by injuries, capped by a fractured jaw to NHL leading rookie scorer Connor Bedard on Jan. 5 that will sideline the 18-year-old for six to eight weeks.

Also out for Chicago are forwards Nick Foligno (broken finger) Tyler Johnson (right foot), Anthony Beauvillier (left wrist) and Andreas Athanasiou (groin). Forward Taylor Hall was lost for the season after right ACL surgery in November.