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Blackhawks want to avoid split vs. Wild in Game 2

by Brian Hedger /


TV: CBC, NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports 2

Chicago leads the best-of-7 series 1-0

The Chicago Blackhawks aren't lacking motivation heading into Game 2 of their Western Conference Second Round series against the Minnesota Wild at United Center on Sunday.

The Wild haven't lost consecutive games in regulation since acquiring goalie Devan Dubnyk on Jan. 14, and hope that streak continues. If so, they can steal home-ice advantage before the series shifts to Xcel Energy Center for Games 3 and 4.

The Blackhawks know how tough it can be after splitting the first two games of a series on home ice. It happened in their 2013 Western Conference Semifinal series against the Detroit Red Wings, and it led to a 3-1 hole the Blackhawks had to overcome in seven games.

"You've got momentum going in, [and] you've got home ice," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said Saturday. "You look at it and think you've got an advantage, but really, you've got to go out there and prove it and earn it and deserve it. Minnesota's going to make you deserve everything you get. They're not going to give you anything. We've got to be ready for a hard game."

The Blackhawks were ready at the start of Game 1, when they charged out to a 3-0 lead in the first period. Minnesota coach Mike Yeo noticed a different approach by Chicago in a third straight postseason series against them.

How long did it take?

"I would say right from the drop of the puck, to be honest with you," Yeo said. "And the reason I saw that is I think that in other times we've come in here, I don't know that they've started as quickly and as aggressively as they did right from the start. And they were on their game. So, obviously, they were prepared. They were ready for that."

Minnesota wasn't happy with the way Game 1 started, felt a little overwhelmed by Chicago's array of talent, and plans to make life more difficult for the Blackhawks in Game 2. It starts with flipping pucks into the Chicago zone and chasing after it with a relentless forecheck.

"Get pucks in deep [and] make them go back for pucks in their own end," Wild forward Charlie Coyle said. "[It's] just little things like that, just being hard right off the bat and [making] things tough and kind of setting the tone. I think that's what we're going to do, is kind of get in our game and kind of shove it in their face."

The Wild will have to do that without right wing Justin Fontaine, who is out with a lower-body injury. Speedy reserve forward Erik Haula might be called upon to replace Fontaine on the fourth line.

Chicago forward Kris Versteeg, who's day-to-day with a lower-body injury, might return to the morning skate. Even if healthy, he's not expected to play.

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