The Minnesota Wild will spend the second day of a back-to-back in Chicago to face the divisional rival Blackhawks for their third meeting of the season. Both teams have 37 points.
The Wild (17-12-3) fell 3-2 to Edmonton at home on Saturday and will hope to start another winning streak after winning four of their last five games overall. This will be their fourth back-to-back pair of games this season. They’re 2-1-0 in the second game so far this season.
Chicago (16-11-5) shut out the Wild 2-0 on the road on Nov. 4 while the Wild beat the Blackhawks on the road 5-2 Oct. 12 in a game that saw three of the Wild’s star players go down with injuries (Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter, Marcus Foligno).
The Wild are 18-13-2 all-time in Chicago. They have points in 10 of their last 13 games against the Blackhawks, dating to Feb. 3, 2015 for a 9-3-1 record. They’re also 5-1-0 in Chicago since April 7, 2015.
Speaking of injuries, defenseman Jared Spurgeon is expected to return to the lineup, reports Michael Russo of The Athletic. Spurgeon has missed eight games with a groin strain.
After Saturday’s game, the Wild sent defenseman Ryan Murphy back to Iowa. The 24-year-old had a goal and an assist with Minnesota in nine games during the recent call-up. He has 11 points in 18 games with Iowa this year. Boudreau said after the Edmonton game that Spurgeon’s return against Chicago was possible.
Alex Stalock, bumped up to No. 1 status with the injured Devan Dubnyk out, is expected to make the back-to-back starts. He gave up three goals to the Oilers on Saturday, with a pair of odd-man rushes and one shorthanded goal. He’s also coming off a week where he played well in San Jose, came on in relief of Dubnyk and got a tough shootout victory.
Stalock beat the Blackhawks in a shootout on Jan. 5, 2014 in his only career game against them.
Points leader Eric Staal has five points in the last four games. Defenseman Matt Dumba, who scored both Wild goals against Edmonton, has seven points in the last 10 games.
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks are riding a season-high four-game winning streak. This marks their last home game of the calendar year before a six-game road trip and Christmas break; they don’t return to Chicago for a home game until Jan. 5 against Vegas.
Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp are the goal leaders against the Wild with 16, 14 and 7 each. A hat-trick for Kane will get him to 300 career goals.
Goaltender Corey Crawford is 15-7-2 this season with a 2.15 GAA and .934 save percentage and has allowed just six goals in the past four games. He is undefeated since returning from injury Dec. 8.
The Wild’s power play went 0-for-4 Saturday while giving up a shorthanded goal, but they’re still 8th in the NHL and 4th on the road with the man advantage. The Blackhawks rank near the bottom of the league on the power play.
The penalty kill is a perfect 13-for-13 in the last three games for the Wild.
Mikko Koivu watch: 23 games without a goal, 10 games without a point. He leads the Wild against Chicago with 34 points against them in 49 career games.
The puck drop is scheduled for 6:08 p.m. at United Center. This kicks off a four-game, seven-day road trip for the Wild.
- Devan Dubnyk (lower body), 2 games
- Jared Spurgeon (groin strain), 9 games
- Zach Parise (microdiscectomy surgery), 32 games
Total man games lost: 78