Seeing who's next on the schedule may help the Minnesota Wild quickly get over a disappointing overtime loss.
Minnesota (34-21-5) looks for its 10th straight win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night at the United Center.
The Northwest Division-leading Wild haven't lost to the Blackhawks since a 4-2 road defeat on Oct. 23, 2005. Overall, Minnesota holds a 19-6-0 record with one tie against Chicago, including a 14-0-0 mark when scoring at least three goals.
One member of the Wild who seems to enjoy visiting Chicago is leading scorer Marian Gaborik. He's tallied two goals in each of his last two appearances at the United Center, and has eight goals and three assists in a six-game point streak there dating back to March 2004.
On Tuesday, Gaborik recorded his 33rd goal, but the Wild fell at home 3-2 in overtime to Vancouver. Gaborik, who has 63 points, is on pace for a career-high 46 goals.
|The Wild have stuck it to the Blackhawks recently, as they go for their 10th-consecutive win against Chicago at the United Center tonight. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)|
Though he's slumped recently, it wouldn't be surprising to see backup goaltender Josh Harding start this contest. He's 2-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average in his career against the Blackhawks, and stopped 41 shots in a 5-2 win at Chicago on Jan. 11.
In his last four appearances, including three starts, Harding is 1-3-0 with a 2.68 GAA.
Niklas Backstrom made his first career start against the Blackhawks (27-27-6) in the season opener on Oct. 4, and turned aside 27 shots in a 1-0 victory.
Against the Canucks, Backstrom stopped 34 shots but failed in his bid for his career-high 24th win. Coach Jacques Lemaire refused to blame Backstrom for the loss.
"He gave us a real good chance to win the game, even with the way we were playing, but he didn't have a lot of support," Lemaire said. "It would be real easy to say we got a point and we didn't play that bad. But we're at home, this is a big game, a four-point game, and you've got to come out better than this."
After scoring 15 goals during a three-game winning streak, Chicago (27-26-6) started quick but lost 5-1 to St. Louis on Tuesday. Martin Havlat scored 1:05 into the contest, but Patrick Lalime allowed three power-play goals.
Coach Denis Savard said Havlat - who has three goals in his last four games - was his best forward and also said conditioning may have been a factor with rookie Jonathan Toews, who was playing in just his fifth game after missing nearly six weeks with a knee injury.
Toews was held to one shot on goal against the Blues and has failed to record a point in his last two games. He had two goals and three assists in his first three contests after returning.
"We've got guys just coming back from injuries and at some point it's going to be a little tougher for them," Savard said. "It's tough when you're out. You've got lots of adrenaline going early but it catches up."
It's not immediately known who Savard will have in goal for this game, but neither Lalime nor Nikolai Khabibulin have had much success against the Wild.
Lalime hasn't faced Minnesota since October 2005 while with St. Louis. He's given up 11 goals in losing his last three starts versus Lemaire's team.
Khabibulin has lost six straight starts to the Wild and is 2-6-2 with a 2.59 GAA in his career against them.