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Preview: Wild at Blackhawks

Chicago aims to move within one point of first-place Minnesota in Central Division, Western Conference

by Brian Hedger / NHL.com Correspondent

WILD (43-17-6) AT BLACKHAWKS (42-20-5)

12:30 p.m. ET; NBC, TVA Sports, NHL.TV

 

Wild team scope 

The Minnesota Wild are looking to increase their three-point lead over the Chicago Blackhawks in the Central Division and Western Conference by splitting the regular-season series. The Wild have won four in a row at United Center including a 3-2 victory on Jan. 15, their eighth straight regular-season win against the Blackhawks since 2014-15. "They're a great team," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It makes it more difficult, that's for sure. What are you going to do? That's what they have. The other guys have come along, [Nick Schmaltz], [Ryan Hartman], these guys have come along. So, you have to deal with it if you want to get by them." Center Martin Hanzal will not play because of an illness. Goalie Devan Dubnyk, who replaced Darcy Kuemper to earn the win in the Wild's 7-4 victory at the Florida Panthers on Friday, will start. He needs one more win to set an NHL career-high with 37, which would tie the Wild record set by Niklas Backstrom in 2008-09.

 

Blackhawks team scope 

Defensemen Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson will return to the lineup for the Blackhawks, who have lost back-to-back games (0-2-0) after a season-high seven-game winning streak. Oduya and Hjalmarsson didn't play in Chicago's 4-2 loss at the Detroit Red Wings on Friday after each returned from injuries in a 1-0 loss against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday. Michal Rozsival and Michal Kempny will come out of the lineup. Goalie Corey Crawford will make his fifth straight start for Chicago, which had moved to within a point of the Wild by winning 12 of 13 games (12-1-0). "We know it's a huge game, very meaningful for us," coach Joel Quenneville said. "The last two times we played them, it was almost a must-win for us to keep them within our sights, and it's a comparable approach here today. So, that should get everyone excited right from the outset, knowing that against them you have to have a purpose behind almost every shift."

 

Wild projected lineup

Nino Niederreiter -- Eric Staal -- Charlie Coyle

Jason Zucker -- Mikko Koivu -- Mikael Granlund

Zach Parise -- Erik Haula -- Jason Pominville

Chris Stewart -- Jordan Schroeder -- Ryan White

Ryan Suter -- Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin -- Matt Dumba

Marco Scandella -- Nate Prosser

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Scratched: None

Injured: Martin Hanzal (illness), Christian Folin (upper body), Gustav Olofsson (upper body), Victor Bartley (torn triceps) 

 

Blackhawks projected lineup

Nick Schmaltz -- Jonathan Toews -- Richard Panik

Artemi Panarin -- Artem Anisimov -- Patrick Kane

Ryan Hartman -- Tanner Kero -- Marian Hossa

Andrew Desjardins -- Marcus Kruger -- Jordin Tootoo

Duncan Keith -- Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya -- Niklas Hjalmarsson

Brian Campbell -- Trevor van Riemsdyk

Corey Crawford

Jeff Glass

Scratched: Dennis Rasmussen , Tomas Jurco, Michal Kempny, Michal Rozsival

Injured: Scott Darling (upper body)

 

Status report 

Rasmussen is a healthy scratch for the fourth straight game. ... The Wild will go with the same lineup from Friday. 

 

Who's hot

Kane has 22 points (14 goals, eight assists) in his past 15 games, including 11 points (nine goals, two assists) in his past seven. … Panarin has a point in six of his past seven points and has six points in that stretch (two goals, four assists). … Staal has five points (four goals, one assist) in his past five games, including two goals and an assist against the Panthers on Friday. … Koivu has 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in his past 10 games with points in seven of them.

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