Minnesota Wild (11-8-2) at Chicago Blackhawks (19-0-3), 8:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Chicago Blackhawks have a chance at yet another record
on Tuesday evening.
The Blackhawks aim to post the longest winning streak in team history in a
meeting with the Minnesota Wild, one of the rare teams this season to hand the
Central Division leaders a loss.
Chicago has amassed 41 of a possible 44 points already in this shortened
season and owns an eight-point lead for the top spot in the Western
Conference. It has built that edge by setting a new NHL record for most
consecutive games with a point to start a season, going 19-0-3 through its
first 22 games.
The Blackhawks have also won each of their last nine games overall to match a
club record set from Dec. 7-28, 2008.
Despite their success, the Blackhawks have had their share of dramatic moments
as they have engaged in 15 one-goal games this season. They are 12-0-3 in
those games, including Sunday's 2-1 shootout win over the Detroit Red Wings.
Chicago seemed headed towards its first 60-minute setback, but Patrick Kane
tied the game on a power-play goal with 2:02 left in regulation and then
scored the only goal of the shootout. Corey Crawford, who left his previous
start with an upper body injury last Thursday, made 32 saves before stopping
three skaters in the shootout.
"It's just pretty amazing. We've talked about the resiliency with this team
... and it seems like we just keep finding ways to either keep ourselves in
the game or find a way to win it at the end," Kane said.
The Blackhawks haven't lost in regulation in 28 straight regular-season games
dating back to a 6-1 home loss to the Nashville Predators on March 25. They
are 22-0-6 since and have tied the 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens for the second-
longest regular-season point streak in league history.
The 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers hold the record of 35 straight.
The Wild were the first team this season to hand the Blackhawks a loss, ending
Chicago's season-opening six-game win streak with a 3-2 decision in Minnesota
on Jan. 30. Matt Cullen had a goal in regulation and notched the winner in the
shootout, while Niklas Backstrom made 28 saves in a relief effort.
Jonathan Toews and Andrew Shaw scored for the Blackhawks and Crawford ended
with 23 saves.
The win was Minnesota's third in a row in this series -- all in a shootout --
but it has still lost four of its past six in Chicago.
The Wild put together the kind of effort last time out that might be needed to
finally slow down the Blackhawks. Minnesota outshot Edmonton 43-21 in a 4-2
victory on Sunday, holding the Oilers without a shot in the second period.
Still, the Wild entered the final frame even at one before getting three goals
in the period.
"That was one of the more impressive things to me. We came out with the right
focus right from the third period. ... It's quite easy to deviate, it's quite
easy to stray and we didn't. We just kept coming out with the same focus,"
said Wild head coach Mike Yeo.
Mikko Koivu, Charlie Coyle and Dany Heatley all scored in the final frame as
Minnesota won for the fifth time in seven games. Koivu, who matched a club
record by scoring just nine seconds into the third, also had two assists,
while Coyle and Jared Spurgeon ended with a goal and an assist each.
Backstrom, named the NHL's third star for the previous week on Monday, made 19
saves and is 6-1-1 in his past eight starts with a 1.70 goals against average
and .932 save percentage.
The Blackhawks are expected to have forward Dave Bolland back in the lineup
Tuesday for the first time in six games due to an upper body injury. He has
five goals and seven points in 16 games this season.