Good evening, State of Hockey Legion!
After a three-game road trip, the Minnesota Wild returns to the friendly confines of Xcel Energy Center to play the very unfriendly, Chicago Cave Swallows, also known as the Blackhawks. State of Hockey fans have a number of reasons to be unfriendly, namely because the club leads the Western Conference. The second reason is the Hawks will be in the same division as Minnesota beginning next season, so get your hate on early, but, let’s concentrate on the here and now.
Tonight, the Wild will start Niklas Backstrom in net. The netminder looks for revenge against the Blackhawks after his last outing in Chicago, a 5-3 loss in which he was pulled. Backstrom is coming off a stellar performance on Sunday, a 3-0 in Columbus; where he earned his NHL-best 20th win on the season.
The Wild’s lineup will remain the same as that last win in Columbus, so that means defensemen Tom Gilbert and Brett Clark will be tonight’s healthy scratches.
Minnesota will again be without forwards Dany Heatley and Matt Cullen. Heatley underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder today and will miss the remainder of the season. Cullen is out with a lower-body injury and there is no timetable set for his return. Josh Harding is on Injured reserve as he continues to receive treatment for multiple sclerosis.
The Wild rocks its Forrest Green third sweaters with ascending Minnesota scrawled across the chest, while the Blackhawks styles the road whites.
As always, follow along with @mnwildLIVE over on the Twitters.
Turn it up!
Period 1 - MIN 0, CHI 0
The first period was a high-tempo affair between the Wild and Blackhawks, but remained scoreless. It was also a physical affair, but there were no penalties called. The Hawks held the shot advantage, 11-4, but the Wild missed the net on a few quality chances.
This is going to be a classic, so stay with us.
Period 2 - MIN 0, CHI 1
Another period with a lot of pace, but the bad guys were the only ones to get on the board.
Marian Hossa picked off a Wild outlet pass and had a clean look on Backstrom. The winger fired a half-slapper through the netminder's legs. The goal was unassisted.
The Wild has been in this position before. They're not scared, they know what to do. Come from behind for a big two points. Like the Black Eyed Peas: I've got a feeling.
Period 3 - MIN 0, CHI 1
Well, the game had a lot of action, a lot of scoring chances, but not a lot of goals. The third period ended with the Wild's net empty, desperately trying to even the game, but the Hawks held on for a one-goal win.
The Wild skates at home against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday. See you all then.