Before heading into this weekend, the Chicago Blackhawks swung a deal that they hope will strengthen their hopes of winning a Stanley Cup title.
The club's present focus, though, is winning their final two games before the Olympic break.
Chicago will play the first of those Saturday night against the visiting Atlanta Thrashers, who are already seeing dividends from one of their recent trades.
The Blackhawks (39-15-5) on Friday acquired defenseman Kim Johnsson and prospect Nick Leddy from Minnesota for defenseman Cam Barker. Chicago general manager Stan Bowman pointed to the 33-year-old Johnsson's experience as one reason for making the move.
"We talked about having some experience here -- we've got a young group -- and Kim has been in playoff runs," Bowman told the team's Web site. "He's been in the Olympics, and I think he's going to fit in great with our style of play here."
Now in his 10th NHL season, Johnsson has six goals in 52 games with three coming on the power play. Bowman hopes that presence will pay off as Chicago works toward clinching its first division title since 1992-93.
With Johnsson expected to be in uniform, the Blackhawks will try to add to a 14-point Central Division lead over Nashville and reach 40 wins for the third straight season. Chicago will play at Columbus on Sunday before the Olympic break.
Antti Niemi is expected to make his third straight start Saturday. The rookie backup to Cristobal Huet has won consecutive games to improve to 15-4-1 and lowered his league-leading goals-against average to 1.98.
He made 34 saves in a 2-1 win in St. Louis on Feb. 6, helping the Blackhawks snap a season-high three-game slide. Niemi gave up the tying goal with 3:50 remaining in regulation Tuesday against visiting Dallas but stopped all five shootout attempts for a 4-3 victory.
"He's coming off a couple of strong wins," coach Joel Quenneville said. "He's got some momentum in his game right now."
Niemi, who has never faced the Thrashers, will try to stop a team that's trying to win for the third time in four games.
Recently acquired Niclas Bergfors has three goals and an assist during a 2-0-1 stretch, including the go-ahead score in Friday's 3-2 win at Minnesota. The Thrashers (26-24-9) got Bergfors, defenseman Johnny Oduya, prospect Patrice Cormier and a future first-round pick from New Jersey in a trade for franchise scoring leader Ilya Kovalchuk on Feb. 4.
"I got a new start coming here, new team and everything," Bergfors said. "So far it's been very good. The two guys I'm playing with are great players so it makes it easy."
One of those linemates, Nik Antropov, also scored Friday during Atlanta's fourth victory in 20 road games since Dec. 6. Antropov has two goals and four assists in the past three games while Bryan Little has two goals and two assists in that span.
The Thrashers, who made their only playoff appearance in 2006-07, are tied for 10th in the Eastern Conference with the New York Rangers, and are two points behind eighth-place Boston and Tampa Bay.
Atlanta's first trip to the United Center since a 3-2 win on Oct. 27, 2007, will also mark a homecoming for coach John Anderson, who led the franchise's AHL affiliate in Chicago to four championships in 11 seasons.
Chicago has won six of nine all-time meetings, including a 3-1 road victory last season, but will likely not have forwards John Madden or Ben Eager in the lineup because of lower-body injuries.