The Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks have faced each other in the past two Stanley Cup Playoffs. But as the Central Division rivals meet at Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN), the home team is on the outside of the Western Conference's top eight looking in.
The Wild enter play Tuesday five points behind the Vancouver Canucks for the second wild-card spot in the West. The Canucks also have a game in hand on Wild.
Still, Minnesota is trying to take a measured approach into a crucial game against the opponent that has ended its season the past two years.
"We obviously need every win we can get," Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk said, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune. "But if you approach a game and think, 'Oh, my God, we have to beat these guys in regulation,' it's just not a good way to be successful. It's not a good approach. If you can knock it right down to a push and a stop and beating a play, it helps."
Chicago, while comfortably in a playoff position, is looking to improve on a poor month of January in which it won six of 13 games. The Blackhawks play the fifth of a seven-game road trip on Tuesday. Chicago has begun the trip by alternating wins and losses.
"There's definitely a lot at stake here," forward Ben Smith said after the morning skate in video posted by the Chicago Tribune. "We want to get higher and higher in the [standings], not drop lower and lower. So the goal is to get points every night, and when you do that you find yourself hanging around and trying to gain some ground on those teams ahead of you."
Here are the projected lineups:
Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa
Patrick Sharp - Brad Richards - Patrick Kane
Bryan Bickell - Andrew Shaw - Teuvo Teravainen
Joakim Nordstrom - Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith
Duncan Keith - David Rundblad
Niklas Hjalmarsson - Brent Seabrook
Michal Rozsival - Johnny Oduya
Scratched: Dennis Rasmussen, Tim Erixon, Daniel Carcillo
Injured: Kris Versteeg (hand), Trevor van Riemsdyk (knee)
Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Thomas Vanek
Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu- Jason Pominville
Ryan Carter - Erik Haula - Kyle Brodziak
Nino Niederreiter - Charlie Coyle - Jordan Schroeder
Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin
Marco Scandella Jared Spurgeon
Nate Prosser - Matt Dumba
Scratched: Christian Folin
Injured: Keith Ballard (upper body), Justin Fontaine (lower body), Matt Cooke (lower body)
Status report: Minnesota placed Fontaine on injured reserve Tuesday and recalled Schroeder from Iowa of the American Hockey League. Cooke, who played in Minnesota's previous game against the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday, was absent from the morning skate Tuesday and will be replaced by Schroeder. … Van Reimsdyk skated on Tuesday for the first time since injuring his knee Nov. 16, according to the team. He was on the ice in Chicago with Versteeg, who Quenneville said he expects to begin practicing with the Blackhawks when they return home after finishing this road trip Sunday in St. Louis.
Who's hot: Parise has goals in his past two games, and seven goals in his past seven games. … Kane has 14 points in his past 10 games (6-8-14) including five multipoint games. Crawford has yet to lose to a divisional opponent (4-0-0) on the road this season.