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Blackhawks aim to bounce back vs. Wild

by Brian Hunter
BLACKHAWKS (6-5-1) at WILD (4-3-2)


Last 10:
Chicago 6-4-0

Season Series:
First of four meetings this season. Chicago went 3-0-1 against Minnesota in 2009-10, although the Wild did rally for four third-period goals in claiming a 6-5 win via the shootout on Jan. 9. Guillaume Latendresse scored twice in that game and led the team with 3 goals. Marian Hossa paced the Blackhawks with 3 goals.

Big Story: The road to defending the Stanley Cup has been a bit bumpy over the first dozen games for the Blackhawks. On the plus side, they're averaging 3 goals per game; however, their team goals-against average is now the same after the defense and goaltending were torched in a 7-4 loss to the Oilers on Friday. Chicago still enters tied for first in the Central Division, but has played three more games than co-leader Nashville and four more than St. Louis, which sits just a point back.

Team Scope:

Blackhawks: It all fell apart in a matter of minutes for Chicago late in the first period against Edmonton. Jonathan Toews had evened the score 1-1 on a power-play goal midway through the opening 20 minutes, but then the Oilers struck three times in the span of 69 seconds to take a lead they would not relinquish. Blackhawks goalie Marty Turco, who had won five of his last six starts, was pulled between periods.

"It's just disappointing," defenseman Duncan Keith said. "It seemed like we'd play hard and there'd be one breakdown or play where, whether it's off the rush or a breakdown, it's in the back of our net. It cost us every time."

Wild: This game marks the midway point of a five-game homestand for Minnesota, which is 1-0-1 so far. The Wild rebounded from a tough shootout loss to the Kings with a 2-1 victory over the Capitals on Thursday. Niklas Backstrom was shutting out one of the NHL's most vaunted offenses until Alex Ovechkin scored with 1:36 remaining. Backstrom closed the door, however, making sure the lead established by goals from Chuck Kobasew and Mikko Koivu stood up.

"We came out early and played well to grab an early lead. More importantly, we found a way to play with the lead late," Kobasew said.

Who's Hot: Patrick Sharp scored his League-leading 10th goal in the Blackhawks' loss to the Oilers. It was his fourth-straight game with a goal. He also has 15 points for the season, second only to Steven Stamkos of the Lightning. Toews is heating up, with 2 goals and 3 assists over the last four games. Keith has 5 assists in the last two games.

Koivu's goal extended his current points streak to five games. The Wild captain has been held off the score sheet only once this season. Backstrom is 3-0-1 in his last four starts, giving up two goals or fewer in each game.

Injury Report: Chicago forward Marian Hossa is expected to be out for two weeks with an upper-body injury suffered Wednesday against Los Angeles. Defenseman Brian Campbell is still working his way back from a knee sprain sustained during the preseason.

Latendresse is expected to miss Saturday's game with a groin injury, while defenseman Cam Barker, a former Blackhawk, also has a groin injury and is day-to-day. Forward Antti Miettinen is out indefinitely with a concussion. Forwards Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion) and James Sheppard (knee) and goalie Josh Harding (torn ACL/MCL) are on injured reserve.

Stat Pack: Tomas Kopecky, who's off to a strong start and is tied for fifth on the Blackhawks in scoring, posted a minus-5 rating during a tough night Friday. … The Wild held the Capitals to 22 shots after Washington had posted at least 33 shots in each of its previous five games.

Puck Drop:
The Blackhawks have a chance to get right back on the ice and erase the bad taste getting walloped by the Oilers left in their mouths -- expect them to tighten up defensively and play a lower-scoring game Saturday.

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