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Wild set for 'big game' vs. Blackhawks at Stadium Series

Minnesota interim coach Torchetti to work first home game outdoors

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

BLACKHAWKS (38-18-5) at WILD (26-22-10)

TV: 3:30 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports

MINNEAPOLIS -- John Torchetti will become the first coach in NHL history to make his home debut in an outdoor game for the Minnesota Wild against the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2016 NHL Coors Light Stadium Series game at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday.

The timing is good because since Torchetti replaced Mike Yeo as interim coach on Feb. 13, the Wild have won three straight and have scored five goals in each victory. Minnesota has won the past four regular-season games against Chicago, including twice this season.

Torchetti was an assistant coach for the Blackhawks and coach Joel Quenneville from 2007 to 2010.

"It'll be fun to see those guys back on the ice," Torchetti said after practice Saturday. "We did some great things with that organization, met some great people, received great texts [the last week]. It's a big game for us, I want to see where we are at. After that puck drops, it's just another game."

The Wild, who haven't won at Xcel Energy Center since Dec. 28 and will be looking to end an eight-game winless streak at home (0-5-3), know now is the time to keep their foot on the accelerator.

"The situation that we're in right now, we can't afford to let too many more points slip away," Wild forward Zach Parise said. "So as much as we want to enjoy the whole thing, we have to win."

The Blackhawks have points in three straight games, including two straight wins without Marian Hossa (leg) in the lineup. They have converted on 8 of 13 opportunities in the past three games on the power play, ranked second in the NHL with a 22.9 percent success rate behind the Washington Capitals (23.2).

"We realize that the season is coming down to the wire," Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. "For us, it's all about trying to get better every day knowing that, yeah, in the back of our minds playoffs are always going to be another level you need to get to. But right now our focus is just trying in the last 20 games to be smart and get as many points as we can, and get as high as we can in the standings."

The Wild and Blackhawks did not conduct a morning skate Sunday.

Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk has won his past two starts after losing nine straight. He received a scare during practice Saturday when he took a puck to the neck, but said afterward he was fine. 
Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford, second in the NHL in wins (32) and first in shutouts (seven), will start his third outdoor game.

The Wild and Blackhawks have faced off 59 times during the regular season since Minnesota entered the League in 2000-01. The Wild lead the head-to-head series with 34 victories and 71 points; the Blackhawks have 24 wins and 57 points.

The Blackhawks, however, have won all three series against the Wild in the Stanley Cup Playoffs: the 2013 Western Conference Quarterfinals (4-1), the 2014 Western Conference Second Round (4-2) and 2015 second round (4-0).

Here are the projected lineups:


Andrew Shaw - Jonathan Toews - Richard Panik  
Artemi Panarin - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane  
Andrew Desjardins - Phillip Danault - Teuvo Teravainen  
Brandon Mashinter - Dennis Rasmussen - Vincent Hinostroza

Duncan Keith - Niklas Hjalmarsson  
Trevor van Riemsdyk - Brent Seabrook  
Erik Gustafsson - Michal Rozsival

Corey Crawford   
Scott Darling

Injured: Marian Hossa (leg), Marcus Kruger (wrist) 
Scratched: Viktor Svedberg, Jiri Sekac  


Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle   
Jason Zucker - Mikael Granlund - Thomas Vanek   
Nino Niederreiter - Erik Haula - Jason Pominville   
Ryan Carter - Jarret Stoll - Justin Fontaine

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon   
Nate Prosser - Matt Dumba   
Christian Folin - Mike Reilly

Devan Dubnyk   
Darcy Kuemper

Injured: Jonas Brodin (foot), Marco Scandella (upper body) 
Scratched: Chris Porter, Niklas Backstrom

Status report: Hossa is expected to miss two more weeks with a leg injury he sustained against the Anaheim Ducks on Feb. 13. Kruger is expected to miss the remainder of the regular season because of a dislocated left wrist. … Scandella will be a game-time decision after returning to practice Saturday for the first time since he was injured at the Vancouver Canucks on Monday. If Scandella can play, he will likely replace Nate Prosser in the lineup.

Who's hot: Panarin has five goals and 11 points in the past six games. … Koivu has two goals and seven points in the past six games. 

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