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At the Rink: Blackhawks at Wild

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild will get their first crack at the Chicago Blackhawks since being swept out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season at Xcel Energy Center on Friday (8 p.m. ET; CSN-CH, FS-N).

Having been eliminated by Chicago in each of the last three postseasons, the Wild say their focus has moved to this game and they are looking at it as a chance to see how they measure up against one of the NHL's elite teams. Minnesota plays against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, but Wild coach Mike Yeo said he hasn't given a moment of thought to that game.

"All my focus has been on tonight," Yeo said.

Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk, who struggled out of the gate this season, has been better of late and said Friday will provide him with a stiff challenge.

"Just a difficult game. I don't look back to last year," Dubnyk said. "We're early in the season still and we're trying to build to what we want to do and how we want to play and get some wins along the way.

"If anything, you just approach it like a difficult game because it's always a good team over there. They always give a good challenge and we know we're going to have to be good."

If Minnesota is to win, its biggest key may be slowing down forward Patrick Kane, who leads Chicago with six goals and seven assists through 10 games. Kane torched the Wild last season, scoring two goals and eight points in four games. He had five goals and one assist in four playoff games.

Kane has 27 points in 31 regular-season games against the Wild.

"He's got everything," Dubnyk said. "If you cheat, he shoots; if you don't, he passes. He's got incredible patience with the puck and obviously all the hands and vision you need. He's a big challenge, and he always has been, but he is for every goaltender in the League."

Chicago did not skate Friday after losing 3-1 against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre on Thursday. The loss dropped the Blackhawks to 1-3-0 on the road. Minnesota is one of two teams that has yet to lose on home ice this season (4-0-0).

Here are the projected lineups:


Viktor Tikhonov - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Artemi Panarin - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane

Teuvo Teravainen - Tanner Kero - Ryan Garbutt

Andrew Desjardins - Marcus Kruger - Andrew Shaw

Viktor Svedberg - Brent Seabrook

Trevor van Riemsdyk - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Trevor Daley - David Rundblad

Scott Darling

Corey Crawford

Injured: Duncan Keith (right knee), Michal Rozsival (left ankle)

Scratched: Bryan Bickell, Erik Gustafsson


Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Nino Niederreiter

Thomas Vanek - Charlie Coyle - Justin Fontaine

Chris Porter - Erik Haula - Ryan Carter

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin - Matt Dumba

Marco Scandella - Nate Prosser

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Injured: Tyler Graovac (groin)

Scratched: Niklas Backstrom, Christian Folin

Status report: Darling has not played since allowing four goals on 24 shots against the Washington Capitals on Oct. 15. … Graovac did not skate a day after leaving practice early because of soreness in his injured groin.

Who's hot: Kane has at least one point in five consecutive games, including Chicago's lone goal in Winnipeg. … Koivu has posted one point in seven straight games and in eight of nine games.

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