WILD (30-21-5) at BLACKHAWKS (28-22-6)
-- Versus (HD); CSN-Chicago (HD)
-- Minnesota 7-3-0; Chicago 4-4-2.
-- This is the third of four meetings between the teams. Minnesota rebounded from a 3-1 loss on Oct. 30 by beating the Blackhawks by a 4-2 score on Jan. 25 at the United Center.
-- It was only eight months ago when the Blackhawks were skating around the rink in Philadelphia celebrating their first Stanley Cup championship since 1961. These days, they're in danger of missing the playoffs entirely.
Chicago enters Wednesday's action four points behind the Calgary Flames for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Blackhawks also have two teams ahead of them -- Wednesday's opponent included -- who they must pass before they can even climb back into playoff position.
"We've got to set the tone right away against them from the start of the game," Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland
said Tuesday. "We're going for the playoffs here. That's our main focus."
-- Minnesota's four-game winning streak came to an end Tuesday night, when it suffered a 4-1 loss at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks at the Xcel Energy Center. Aiming to stay in the thick of a crowded Western Conference playoff race, the Wild lost for only the third time in 12 games despite outshooting the Canucks 28-14.
"It's definitely frustrating. We've been playing so well," defenseman Clayton Stoner
said. "It wasn't a real fast game, the first period. I feel like the second half of the game, we dominated. We deserved a better fate for sure."
-- Chicago is aiming to snap a two-game winless skid after it dropped a 3-2 shootout decision against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on Saturday. While the Blackhawks have earned points in both losses, they'll need to start winning some games in order to finish among the top eight teams in the West.
"We gave a tough one up and they had a lot of momentum, but we were able to hold them back and came back pretty strong," said goalie Corey Crawford
, who stopped 23 shots. "It shows a lot of character, but we have a lot of character in this room. We need the points."
Who's hot --
Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck
has four goals in his last three contests. … Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews
has two goals and 10 assists in his last seven games.
-- Wild defenseman Marek Zidlicky
(shoulder) is day-to-day, while Marco Scandella
(concussion), Guillaume Latendresse
(groin), Josh Harding
(ACL/MCL) and James Sheppard (knee) are out. … Blackhawks center Ryan Johnson (upper body) is out, while Fernando Pisani (head) is questionable.
-- Prior to Tuesday's loss, the Wild had outscored Vancouver 21-6 in the previous four games at the Xcel Energy Center. … Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa
tallied his 800th NHL point on Saturday night.
-- "We had a nice little winning streak and now we lost. We have to regroup and come out tomorrow and try to start another winning streak." -- Wild coach Todd Richards