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Blackhawks' Kane looks to extend streak vs. Wild

by Brian Hedger

WILD (11-7-4) AT BLACKHAWKS (13-8-3)


CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane has an opportunity to extend his points streak to 20 against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday at United Center.

Kane, the NHL First Star of the Month for November, set the record for consecutive games with a point at 19 with a goal Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings.

He has 11 goals and 20 assists during his streak, which started Oct. 17.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last player with a point streak of at least 20 games was Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who had a 25-game streak during the 2010-11 season.

"It's in the back of your mind for sure," Kane said of his streak. "I was probably thinking about it a little bit more probably five games ago than I am right now. But I think the way to go about it is to not worry about it and just play your game. If you keep the streak alive, it stays alive. If not, then it's been a pretty good run."

The Wild will receive a boost on defense in hopes of limiting the Blackhawks and Kane with the return of Marco Scandella.

Minnesota has lost three straight and went 1-3-1 in the five games Scandella missed because of a lower-body injury.

"It [stinks] being out," said Scandella, who will play the left side on the second defense pair. "It's been about two weeks now so I'm just excited to get back in there. We have to get playing the right way. We have the right personnel in this locker room, even with guys out, but now that we have guys coming back we've just got to keep pushing and start winning some hockey games."

That should be less of a burden with Scandella back, along with forwards Zach Parise and Justin Fontaine, who each returned recently from lengthy injury absences.

"Marco is such a big part of our [defense], our top four [defensemen]," Parise said. "He's a great player. As far as getting the puck and getting us out of our own zone, I think we really missed him from that standpoint. It'll be good for us to have him back in the offensive zone too. He's got a big shot and makes good plays. Getting everyone back healthy, hopefully that will kick start us a little bit."

Scandella will be paired with Jared Spurgeon, who had been playing with Ryan Suter on the top pairing. Wild coach Mike Yeo changed the pairings at practice Monday, which Suter disagreed with.

Suter and his new defense partner, Jonas Brodin, both shoot left handed. That can make it more difficult to send and receive point-to-point passes, set up shots or exit the defensive zone. Suter, who has three goals and 17 assists playing primarily with right-shooting Spurgeon, met with Yeo before the morning skate Tuesday to discuss things.

"We're obviously on the same page," Suter said. "It's a story that really shouldn't even be a story. I think the heat of the practice [Monday], I was just saying stuff I probably shouldn't have said. But at the end of the day it's about winning and it's about what's going to be best for our team. At the end of the day it's what [the coaches] decide to help us win, and we aren't winning. I think it probably is good to change it up a bit."

His opinion about playing with a left-shooting partner, though, hasn't changed.

"It's easier to play with a righty," Suter said. "That's all I was saying [Monday], basically. It has nothing to do with who it is or what it is; it's a lefty/righty [thing]. It's always easier to come out here and it's easier to make more plays. If this works and we get winning again, [we] might as well keep it. Hopefully it works and this is all behind us."

Corey Crawford will start in net for the Blackhawks. Goalie Devan Dubnyk will start for the Wild.

Here are the projected lineups:


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 - Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon

Nate Prosser - Mathew Dumba

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Injured: Tyler Graovac (groin)

Scratched: Niklas Backstrom, Christian Folin, Chris Porter


Andrew Shaw - Jonathan Toews - Ryan Garbutt

Artemi Panarin - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane

Marko Dano - Marcus Kruger - Marian Hossa

Brandon Mashinter - Tanner Kero - Teuvo Teravainen

Duncan Keith - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Trevor van Riemsdyk - Brent Seabrook

Trevor Daley - Michal Rozsival

Corey Crawford

Scott Darling

Injured: None

Scratched: Andrew Desjardins, David Rundblad, Viktor Tikhonov

Status report: Dano returns to the lineup for Chicago after being a healthy scratch at the Los Angeles Kings on Nov. 28. ... Desjardins will be a healthy scratch after playing five straight games. ... Hossa remains on the third line after being moved there halfway through the Blackhawks' "Circus Trip." ... Tikhonov has played in three of Chicago's past 14 games. ... Carter will return after missing a game Nov. 28 because of an undisclosed injury.

Who's hot: Keith has a three-game point streak and has four goals and eight points in eight games since returning from surgery to repair a meniscal tear in his right knee. ... Vanek has three goals and five points in the past four games.

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