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From the Rink: Wild in search of good start against Blackhawks

Chicago outscoring opponents 11-1 in first period this season

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

CHICAGO -- Through the first week of the NHL's regular season, nobody has scored more first-period goals than the Chicago Blackhawks. 

Chicago's 11 goals -- and a penchant for starting quickly -- will be one thing to keep an eye on Thursday evening when the Blackhawks host the Wild, which hasn't played a game in five days.

"We gotta make sure we match their start," said Wild forward Jason Zucker. "We gotta make sure we start out strong and play our game right from the get-go. We can't try and have a feeling-out period of time and see how they're going to play. We know how they play; they're fast, they move the puck well, and they try to get shots on net and they're gonna make a lot of good plays.

"We gotta make sure we're locked in mentally right from the start and get going."

Minnesota learned that lesson the hard way last March, when the Blackhawks scored a pair of goals in the first 4:38 of the game, driving goaltender Devan Dubnyk from the game en route to a 4-2 win at United Center.

The early offense got the crowd into the game and sustained the Blackhawks even through an eventual push Minnesota made later in the contest. The Wild got within a goal later in the first period and again 46 seconds into the third period, but was never able to find the equalizer. 

Video: Wild pregame at Chicago

"We should know from last year when they led [three of four] games that we played them 2-nothing," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "If we're not ready to play, they jump into the lead and they're a great team to capitalize on mistakes when other teams start to force it."

The Wild allowed eight goals in the first two games of the regular season, a regulation loss at Detroit one week ago and a shootout loss at Carolina last Saturday.

After a day off Sunday, the Wild has spent the past three days working on tightening up defensively, knowing it has games against two of the NHL's most explosive offenses the next three days.

Dubnyk, who hasn't played since the opener against the Red Wings, said his approach to jumping back into action won't change.

"I think of the same things going into a game, regardless of the game," Dubnyk said. "Obviously, when you get into the regular season, things are a little easier when it comes to routine and flowing game to game. But [the time off] is one of those things you try not to concern yourself with because that's the way the schedule is and that's the way it is the next couple of weeks as well."

Here are the projected lineups:


Marcus Foligno - Eric Staal - Charlie Coyle

Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Nino Niederreiter

Tyler Ennis - Joel Eriksson Ek - Chris Stewart

Daniel Winnik - Matt Cullen

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin - Matt Dumba

Mike Reilly - Kyle Quincey

Gustav Olofsson

Devan Dubnyk

Alex Stalock


Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Richard Panik

Ryan Hartman - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane

Patrick Sharp - Tanner Kero - Alex DeBrincat

Lance Bouma - Tommy Wingels - John Hayden

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Michal Kempny - Connor Murphy

Gustav Forling - Jan Rutta

Corey Crawford

Anton Forsberg

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