NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, December 5th (All times Eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (20-5-4) at Minnesota Wild (16-8-5), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Blackhawks will try to bounce back from their first loss in weeks when they visit the Minnesota Wild for Thursday's encounter at Xcel Energy Center.
The Blackhawks had a season-high six-game winning streak snapped with Tuesday's 4-3 regulation loss against visiting Dallas. It was Chicago's first loss since a 5-1 setback in Colorado on Nov. 17 and the club's first home defeat since dropping a 3-2 overtime decision against Calgary on Nov. 3.
Chicago will try to get back in the win column in Thursday's road tilt in St. Paul. The Blackhawks lead the NHL this season with 11 road wins and have won six in a row as the guest since the loss in Denver on Nov. 17. All told, the defending Stanley Cup champions are an impressive 11-3-1 way from the Windy City this season.
The Blackhawks and Wild have played two of their five scheduled meetings this season, with each team winning a game on the road. Chicago slammed the Wild, 5-1, in St. Paul when the clubs last met on Oct. 28, as Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad each tallied a goal and an assist to lead the way in the rout.
Chicago has taken three of the last four meetings with the Wild and boasts an 11-2-4 record over the past 17 encounters in this series. Minnesota also has lost six of its last eight home tilts versus the Blackhawks, who are 7-0-3 during a 10-game point streak at Xcel Energy Center.
Despite falling behind 3-0 to the Stars on Tuesday, the Blackhawks were able to make a game of it. Patrick Sharp, Nick Leddy and Marcus Kruger scored second-period goals for Chicago to tie the tilt at 3-3, but Antoine Roussel scored on a penalty shot in the third to deliver the win for Dallas.
Corey Crawford gave up all four goals on 18 shots for the Blackhawks.
"We were able to get ourselves back into the game, but weren't able to finish it off," said Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville. "It was a dud to start, but it wasn't a total dud game for us."
Blackhawks forwards Michal Handzus and Andrew Shaw did not make the trip to St. Paul and will miss tonight's contest. Handzus sat out Tuesday's game due to an illness, while Shaw was injured on a check during the loss to Dallas.
The Wild are aiming for a second straight win tonight after halting a four- game losing streak in Monday's 2-0 home win against Philadelphia. Josh Harding made 21 saves to record his third shutout of the season for Minnesota, while Jason Pominville and Charlie Coyle scored 57 seconds apart in the third period to account for both of the game's goals.
Pominville snapped a 0-0 stalemate 3:52 into the final frame. He was the beneficiary of hard work by Mikko Koivu, collecting the captain's behind-the- net pass and beating Flyers goaltender Ray Emery from the doorstep.
Coyle scored from almost the exact same spot. Emery kicked out Jared Spurgeon's slap shot right to Coyle and he buried the puck into an open net. The Flyers were still unable to solve Harding despite two power plays and Emery on the bench for an extra skater for the final three-plus minutes.
"They pressured us hard in the third and (Harding) was the difference," Pominville said.
Monday's win improved Minnesota's home record this season to 11-3-2. After Thursday's outing in St. Paul, the Wild will play four of five and eight of their next 10 on the road.
12/05 10:44:54 ET