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Posted On Tuesday, 05.13.2014 / 2:11 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Ballard returns for Wild, Kuemper to serve as backup

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild defenseman Keith Ballard will return to the lineup Tuesday in Game 6 of their Western Conference Second Round series against the Chicago Blackhawks at Xcel Energy Center (9 p.m. ET; CNBC, TSN, RDS2).

Chicago leads the best-of-7 series 3-2.

Ballard was injured late in the second period of Game 4 when he was hit from behind by Blackhawks forward Brandon Bollig. Ballard left the game with an upper-body injury and did not return. Bollig was assessed a two-minute minor for boarding, and was later suspended for two games by the NHL Department of Player Safety. Bollig will serve the second game of that suspension Tuesday.

Ballard has a history of concussions, including one that cost him seven games in October of this season, but did not say whether he sustained one this time around.

"I feel fine, I've felt fine for a couple of days," Ballard said. "We were trying to be pretty smart about it. There's no chance that I'd play if I had symptoms. I've been through that before and been down that road a couple times.

"I don't want to put myself in a position where in 10 years, I can't remember [my kids'] names."

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Posted On Monday, 05.12.2014 / 4:44 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Wild look to feed off home crowd again in Game 6

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild have their backs against the wall yet again.

A 2-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 5 of their Western Conference Second Round series Sunday night in Chicago has the Wild one game away from elimination for the third time in these Stanley Cup Playoffs.

For Wild defenseman Ryan Suter, it's been more than that. Twice in these playoffs, Minnesota has trailed in a series 2-0. Each time, Suter said Game 3 was like a must-win too.

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Posted On Saturday, 05.10.2014 / 7:26 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Surging Wild hoping to find success on the road

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- For the second time in these Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Minnesota Wild have battled back from a 2-0 series deficit by winning consecutive games at home.

A 4-2 win in Game 4 on Friday means their second-round series against the Chicago Blackhawks will go back to the United Center tied 2-2 with Game 5 on Sunday (9 p.m. ET; CNBC, TSN, RDS2).

The Wild are 1-5 away from Xcel Energy Center in the postseason, and now the job is to take whatever is working at home, where Minnesota is 5-0 in the playoffs, and carry it with them to Chicago.

"Thinking back to Games 1 and 2, I said at that time it's not like we were that far off," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "We knew we could play a little bit better and I think we've picked our game up since then."

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Posted On Saturday, 05.10.2014 / 2:30 AM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Wild's Keith Ballard leaves Game 4 with injury

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Defenseman Keith Ballard was injured late in the second period of Game 4 of the Minnesota Wild's Western Conference Second Round game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday and did not return.

Ballard retreated into his defensive zone to retrieve a loose puck when he was hit from behind in the left corner by Blackhawks forward Brandon Bollig. Ballard, who appeared to hit his face and head on the glass, was slow to get to his skates but skated off the ice under his own power and went down the tunnel to the dressing room.

Bollig was assessed a two-minute minor penalty for boarding.


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Posted On Friday, 05.09.2014 / 2:00 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Cooke to add veteran know-how in return to Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild forward Matt Cooke will rejoin the lineup for Game 4 on Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS) when the Wild will try to even the Western Conference Second Round series.

Cooke was suspended for seven games for kneeing Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie in Game 3 of the first round.

"I've been ready to go since I haven't been able to play," Cooke said. "The time is finally here and it'll be fun to go out and battle with my teammates."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.08.2014 / 1:48 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Wild's Moulson expected to miss Game 4

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Forward Matt Moulson is out and forward Matt Cooke and defenseman Ryan Suter are in for the Minnesota Wild as they prepare for Game 4 of their Western Conference Second Round series against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday at Xcel Energy Center (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

The Blackhawks lead the best-of-7 series 2-1.

Moulson, it was revealed, has been playing through a lower-body injury and Wild coach Mike Yeo said Thursday the two-day break between Games 3 and 4 has been good to give Moulson a couple days away to heal. Yeo said he doesn't expect Moulson to play in Game 4, but he could return shortly after.

"It's an opportunity for us to give a couple days here, at least," Yeo said. "Not skating yesterday, keeping him off the ice today and give him a chance to get better."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.07.2014 / 4:17 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Shutout gives Wild's Bryzgalov break from critics

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- For one night, at least, Ilya Bryzgalov could breathe easy. The much-maligned, sometimes controversial Minnesota Wild goaltender put in a solid night of work in Game 3 of their Western Conference Second Round series against the Chicago Blackhawks, stopping all 19 shots he faced in a 4-0 win.

The victory pulled the Wild to within 2-1 of the Blackhawks in the best-of-7 series, and temporarily silenced many of his critics. Asked about his first shutout in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in almost eight years, Bryzgalov replied sarcastically.

"Thanks for reminding me. It's been a while," he said.

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.06.2014 / 1:58 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Ballard returns to lineup for Wild in Game 3

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild will get veteran defenseman Keith Ballard back for Game 3 of their Western Conference Second Round series against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center (9 p.m. ET; CNBC, TSN, RDS2).

Ballard, who has missed the better part of two months with a groin injury, will get into the lineup in place of Nate Prosser, who will be a healthy scratch for the first time since Ballard's prior game, March 17 against the Boston Bruins. Ballard missed the final 14 games of the regular season, all seven games of the Wild's first-round series against the Colorado Avalanche, and the first two games of this series.

"It's been a bit," Ballard said. "But I'm excited to play. Excited to get back in. I've been feeling good for about the last week-and-a-half or so. A lot of rehab to get the strength back in my leg and be feeling good."

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Posted On Monday, 05.05.2014 / 4:17 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Wild need home dominance to hold vs. Blackhawks

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Trailing 2-0 in their Western Conference Second Round series against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Minnesota Wild return to Xcel Energy Center in a familiar spot.

The Wild came home in the first round against the Colorado Avalanche down two games as well, although this time around, Minnesota trails a team that isn't young and inexperienced like the Avalanche. Instead, if any team can claim to have "been there and done that," it's the Blackhawks, winners of two Stanley Cups in the past four years.

They're also down to a team that, going back to last season, has beaten them in six of their past seven playoff games.

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Posted On Monday, 04.28.2014 / 2:45 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Avalanche-Wild series blog

Duchene game-time decision for Avalanche in Game 6

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene will be a game-time decision in Game 6 of their Western Conference First Round series against the Minnesota Wild (9 p.m. ET; CNBC, TSN, RDS2, ALT- FS-N).

The Avalanche lead the best-of-7 series 3-2.

After nearly a week of skating on his own, Duchene joined his teammates for the morning skate prior to Game 5 in Denver on Saturday, fueling speculation he might be ready to rejoin the lineup.

Avalanche coach Patrick Roy ruled him out Saturday following the skate, but made no such declaration Monday at Xcel Energy Center.

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Quote of the Day

Great players need great players to play with. That's why we'll have a training camp and we'll find who the best two guys are suited to play with Stamkos.

— Tampa Bay Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness on Steven Stamkos' potential linemates for the 2014-15 season