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Now 36, Hossa still going strong for Blackhawks

Marian Hossa had nothing against scoring a goal one night before his 36th birthday. His tap-in 4:17 into the first after assists from Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead Sunday over the Minnesota Wild, finishing a slick shift from the Hawks’ top line.

Adding that Monday is his 36th birthday also didn’t bother him too much, though he was deceptive about that at first.

“Thanks for mentioning it,” Hossa joked. “Definitely, it’s nice to get a goal. A nice play by Saader and Johnny going to the net and it was a rebound there.”

That Hossa, now 36, is able to still play the way he does on a line with the 26-year-old Toews and 22-year-old Saad is a testament to his longevity and durability. Signed to a mammoth 12-year deal during the summer of 2009, Hossa has delivered what was expected from that giant contract. He’s been a key part of two Stanley Cup champions and has lived up to his reputation as a prototypical two-way forward since arriving in Chicago.

Though Hossa’s goal was only his ninth of the season the Hawks still look to him to be a force in every situation. They depend on his ability to possess the puck and be a strength everywhere on the ice. Despite the fact he likely won’t match the 30 goals he scored last season, Hossa is still contributing in other ways. He has a plus-6 rating and is still one of the Hawks’ possession leaders.

Hossa was that presence Sunday, also adding an assist in 16:47 of ice time.

“Hoss just keeps going, doing his thing,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “We put him in a lot of key situations and he keeps doing his thing. I think he’s enjoying where he’s at, the role he has. And, let’s go.”

That’s what Hossa is ready and willing to do. His advancing age doesn’t seem to be stopping him or bothering him much at all.

“Maybe the number is higher (but) I still feel good and that’s how I look at it,” Hossa said.