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Stadium Series

Chicago Blackhawks used to great outdoors

Game against Wild will be fourth time outside

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Chicago Blackhawks have certainly been there and done that when it comes to hockey in the great outdoors.

The experience of playing in three outdoor NHL games since 2009 hasn't really benefited the defending Stanley Cup champions, with the Blackhawks having lost twice.

But those veterans of the outdoor elements appear geared up to make amends against the Minnesota Wild in the 2016 Coors Light Stadium Series game at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports).

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville wasn't too keen admitting his team had a distinct advantage against the Wild, who will be playing their first outdoor game.

"The enthusiasm of not playing in one generates a real high, so they'll get energy off of that," Quenneville said. "For the guys who have played in it, it doesn't definitely not get old. It's a privilege, and there's a certain excitement going into big games and our guys have played in a lot of big-game settings, so that could help at times.

Video: SAP Stat video Minnesota

"Once you're out there, the mindset is playing that game and to focus on what you have to do; it's tough to say there's an advantage."

The Blackhawks lost 6-4 against the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field in Chicago in 2009, won 5-1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldier Field in Chicago in 2014, and lost 3-2 against the Washington Capitals at Nationals Park in Washington in 2015.

"There's no doubt when it's your fourth game it's not exactly a novelty the way it was at first, but it is still exciting," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "It looks like we'll get decent weather and the ice was good [Saturday at practice]. It's fun to be out there and we're going to have a great atmosphere against a [Central Division] rival. I think it's shaping up to be a great game."

Toews has at least one point in each of the previous three outdoor games, totaling two goals and three assists. He has an idea what the secret to success might be while battling the weather.

"Weather-wise, ice-wise, and concerning all the conditions, you kind of know what to expect," Toews said. "It's not going to be too far from the norm. If the weather [Sunday] is anything like it was [Saturday] we should have a pretty solid game. We don't have to worry too much about the external conditions. All that aside, I think it's an energetic atmosphere and the fans are pumped to be a part of it, so that only adds to the energy you bring to the game, so I think we can use that."

Goaltender Corey Crawford, in the midst of perhaps his best season, will be playing his third outdoor game and using his third set of specialty crafted goalie equipment and new mask he helped design.

Crawford said there are some challenges to being a goalie in the outdoor games.

"I think the depth from the stands when you look over the glass, it kind of looks weird at first because you're so used to the stands being so close to the glass," said Crawford, 32-14-3 with a 2.21 goals-against average, .929 save percentage and NHL-leading seven shutouts in 49 games. "Other than that, once you get used to that midway through practice, you start to get used to it so it's not that hard to adjust to."

Crawford is 1-1-0 in outdoor games. He made 31 saves in the victory against the Penguins at Soldier Field and 32 saves in the loss to the Capitals at Nationals Park. He has a 2.00 goals-against average and .940 save percentage outdoors.

Chicago right wing Patrick Kane, who has two assists in three outdoor games, isn't concerned with the ice conditions at game time.

"Sometimes you go into a regular game and think of the two points and try to win that game, and now the one thing you're thinking about is that the game is outside so you're not thinking much about the two points," said Kane, who leads the NHL with 83 points, and ranks second with 34 goals and 49 assists. "But our coaches have stressed the battle we're in, especially in the Central Division. Points are meaningful and we have to take advantage of these opportunities.

"I have all the faith that the NHL will have the ice ready to go, so [the ice] is not something we're worried about," he said.

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