GAME: Minnesota Wild (25-28-20-3) at Chicago Blackhawks (20-38-11-6).
TIME: Thursday, 8:30 p.m. EST.
It has been more than four months since Jocelyn Thibault last played. The
Chicago Blackhawks will apparently have to wait one more game for his return.
Thibault, who has been out since Nov. 7 with a hip injury, was expected to
rejoin the Blackhawks in time for their game with the visiting Minnesota Wild.
However, coach Brian Sutter said it is more likely Thibault will play
Saturday against St. Louis.
While the Blackhawks await Thibault's return, they will again hope for an
impressive performance from Michael Leighton.
Although Chicago has just one win in its last five games, Leighton played
well in a 2-2 tie with Colorado on Tuesday, stopping 41 shots.
"This was all about heart and courage," Leighton said. "Colorado is a
team that has a chance to win a Stanley Cup. We want to prove we can play with
any team in the league. We might not be in the playoffs, but we will hang in
there until the end."
Like the Blackhawks, the Wild will almost certainly miss out on the
postseason. Minnesota, which advanced to the Western Conference finals last
season, is currently in 12th place - nine points behind Nashville for the final
The Wild have dropped three straight, including a 2-0 loss to Columbus on
Wednesday. Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said he was disappointed with his
team's inability to generate scoring chances.
"We came out flat and never could recover," Lemaire said. "We had power
plays one after the other. One time it was a five-minute power play - and we
couldn't generate nothing. We couldn't get a shot when it was time to make a
shot, couldn't make the pass when it was time to make the pass."
STANDINGS: Wild - 73 points, 5th place, 21 PB, Northwest Division.
Blackhawks - 57 points, 4th place, 42 PB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Wild - Andrew Brunette, 15 goals, 30 assists and 45 points;
Matt Johnson, 161 PIM. Blackhawks - Tyler Arnason, 22 goals, 31 assists and 53
points; Scott Nichol and Travis Moen, 126 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 23): Wild - Power play: 12.9 percent (39 for
303), 28th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.2 percent (223 for 265), 18th.
Blackhawks - Power play: 15.5 percent (51 for 329), 19th. Penalty killing: 84.8
percent (295 for 348), 6th.
GOALTENDERS: Wild - Manny Fernandez (9-13-9, 2 SO, 2.45 GAA); Dwayne Roloson
(16-17-11, 4, 1.89). Blackhawks - Leighton (6-18-8, 2, 2.99); Adam Munro
(1-2-1, 0, 3.20).
SEASON SERIES: Wild, 2-1.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 21; Wild, 4-2. At St. Paul, Minn., Jim Dowd put in a long
rebound of his own slap shot to break a tie with 15.5 seconds left, and Richard
Park added an empty net goal three seconds later to lead the Wild to just their
second win in seven games.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Wild - 10-15-13-1 on the road; Blackhawks - 13-14-6-5 at