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Wild juggle lines as they prepare for Game 2

by Brian Hedger


(Chicago leads best-of-7 series 1-0)


Big story: If any team knows the importance of the second game in a best-of-7 series, it's the Chicago Blackhawks. In two of the four series they won on the way to winning the Stanley Cup last spring, the Blackhawks won the opening game but dropped Game 2 and went on to fall behind in the series.

Chicago had to climb out of a 3-1 hole to beat the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Semifinals, then battled back from a 2-1 deficit in the Stanley Cup Final to defeat the Boston Bruins. The Blackhawks feel a little fortunate to have won the first game of this Western Conference Second Round series against the Minnesota Wild; the 5-2 final score didn't reflect the closeness of the game.

"Once it gets a little bit tougher for us, we tend to come together a little bit more," Chicago defenseman Johnny Oduya said Saturday. "That said, losing one game could be the one that will knock you out. There's no reason to wait around. We don't want to do that."

Team Scope:

Wild: The first game proved how thin Minnesota's margin for error is in this series. That was the main takeaway for coach Mike Yeo after breaking down the video of Game 1.

"When I watched the game again, and I watched it carefully, we played a good game last game but we didn't play a great game," Yeo said. "The little things that were missing, there was just a very small dip in some of the little things. Knowing who we're playing against and the level of team that they are, we're not going to get away with playing good games."

Unlike Chicago, Minnesota held a full practice Saturday. Yeo jumbled his line combinations on the bottom two units and it looks like Justin Fontaine will re-enter the lineup at right wing on the third line. Dany Heatley was bumped from that spot to left wing on the fourth line, and third-line center Kyle Brodziak flipped lines with center Erik Haula.

Stephane Veilleux will likely be scratched to make room for Fontaine. Injured goalie Darcy Kuemper (upper body) has not joined the Wild in Chicago.

Blackhawks: Players and coaches are looking for a more complete effort in Game 2 at United Center. Despite the three-goal margin of victory in the opener, Chicago was outplayed for a couple of long stretches, including most of the second period, and gave up two goals early in the third that pulled the Wild even at 2-2.

The Blackhawks didn't practice Saturday, which has become their norm between playoff games, but three players and coach Joel Quenneville, who met with the media, weren't exactly thrilled with Chicago's performance in Game 1.

"I think we almost fed them that confidence that they could win that game with our own sloppy play," captain Jonathan Toews said. "We weren't happy with the way we played. We made a lot of mistakes that were unnecessary. I think they gained that momentum, gained that energy that they wanted off our poor play in a way. We'll try and be better in that regards [Sunday]."

Who's hot: Wild defenseman Clayton Stoner scored his first goal in the NHL playoffs in Game 1 and finished with six hits. ... Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane scored two goals in a game for the second time this postseason; in each game, he had the winning goal.

Injury report: Wild forward Jason Zucker (quadriceps), defenseman Keith Ballard (groin) and goalies Josh Harding (illness) and Niklas Backstrom (abdominal surgery) are out. Harding is skating but not likely to return in the series … Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw (lower body) left Game 1 in the first period and didn't return. He is questionable with an injury that Quenneville labeled short-term.

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