NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, April 5th
(All times Eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (44-26-10) at Minnesota Wild (34-35-11), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Chicago Blackhawks will continue to fight for a higher
seed in the Western Conference when they visit the Minnesota Wild for
tonight's clash at Xcel Energy Center.
The playoff-bound Blackhawks enter today's action as the sixth seed in the
West, where they trail Nashville by two points. Like Chicago, the Predators
have two games left in the regular season and also play tonight against
Chicago is playing its second straight game against Minnesota after losing
Sunday's home test to the Wild in a shootout. This is not a home-and-home
series, however, as Minnesota visited Nashville in between its meetings with
The Blackhawks had won four straight and six of seven against Minnesota before
losing Sunday's 5-4 decision to the visiting Wild. Devin Setoguchi had a goal
and two assists in regulation and then scored the game winner in the shootout
to lift Minnesota to the win at United Center.
Patrick Kane scored twice, Patrick Sharp and Viktor Stalberg netted a goal
apiece and Ray Emery made 26 saves for Chicago.
"We want to continue to roll, continue to gain momentum and try and be in the
right frame of mind for the first game of the playoffs, whoever we are
playing," Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook said after the shootout loss.
The Blackhawks hope the return of defenseman Duncan Keith to the lineup
tonight can help that get a full two points against the Wild. Keith has
completed a five-game suspension that was handed to him by the NHL for
elbowing Vancouver's Daniel Sedin in the head on March 21. Sedin is still
sidelined with a concussion and isn't expected to return for the Canucks until
the first round of the playoffs at the earliest.
"It's been a while, five games, but it's gone by quick, too," Keith said after
Tuesday's practice. "I'm looking forward to getting back and helping the team
here in the last couple games and the playoffs."
The Blackhawks, who are just 17-18-4 on the road this year, will complete the
regular season on a two-game trip. Chicago will play its final game before the
playoffs this Saturday in Detroit.
The Wild, who will miss out on the playoffs for a fourth straight season, were
dealt a 2-1 shootout loss in Nashville on Tuesday. Alexander Radulov netted
the lone goal in the shootout to lift the Predators.
Radulov faked and went to the forehand to lift the puck over Niklas
Backstrom's pad, just inside the left post. Anders Lindback, who had 25 saves,
then stacked his pads to stop Setoguchi's attempt for his first shootout
Dany Heatley scored in regulation for Minnesota, while Backstrom stopped 23
"I thought as a group they played a real strong game," Wild coach Mike Yeo
said of his team.
The Wild will play their final two games of the season in St. Paul and are
19-16-4 as the host this year. Minnesota will close its 2011-12 schedule
Saturday against Phoenix.
04/05 10:50:25 ET