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Chicago Blackhawks (32-8-12) at Minnesota Wild (27-20-5)

January 23rd, 2014 at 3:32 PM
By Andrew McIntyre

The Chicago Blackhawks are back in action one night after suffering a shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Tonight's opponent – the Minnesota Wild who have won seven of their last 10 games. The Blackhawks have recorded points in six straight games and sit atop the Central Division. They trail the Anaheim Ducks by three points for the Western Conference lead.

This is the fourth of five games between the teams. The Wild currently hold a 2-1 series lead, having won the last meeting against the Blackhawks 4-3 in Minnesota on December 5.

Here are some notes for tonight's game:

  • Wild forward Zach Parise will make his return after missing 14 games with a foot injury. Parise has 15 goals and 12 assists in 37 games this season.
  • The Wild will still be without forward Mikko Koivu (ankle) and goaltender Josh Harding (illness). Koivu leads the team with 35 points, while Harding leads the NHL in goals against average and is having one of the best seasons for a goaltender this year.
  • Forward Patrick Kane leads the Blackhawks with 58 points. The team has five players over 40 points, while the Wild have none.
  • Wild defenseman Ryan Suter is third on the team with 31 points. After scoring five goals in a span of four games, Suter is on a cold streak only recording two points over his last eight games.

Battle Between The Pipes

Chicago Blackhawks: Antti Raanta (12-1-3, 2.25 GAA, .911 SV%)

With Corey Crawford playing last night in a game that went all the way to a shootout, it is expected that Raanta will get the call in net tonight. Raanta has won his last three starts, allowing a total of five goals during that stretch while picking up his first career shutout. Raanta's only regulation loss came in December when he allowed five goals against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Minnesota Wild: Darcy Kuemper (4-3-0, 2.39 GAA, .916 SV%)

Kuemper will once again start in net for the Wild with Harding and Niklas Backstrom still recovering. Kuemper has won two of his last three starts, but is coming off a loss in which he allowed four goals on 36 shots. The young goaltender will have his hands full tonight against a fast and explosive Blackhawks offense.

Players To Watch

Chicago Blackhawks: Forward, Marian Hossa: 21 G, 22 A, 43 P

Hossa is on a six-game point streak, recording eight points during that stretch. He has four goals in his last three games and continues to produce at a high level despite just turning 35 years old. 

Minnesota Wild: Forward, Jason Pominville: 19 G, 14 A, 33 P

With Koivu injured and Parise returning, the Wild will need Pominville to have a good game tonight. He leads the team in goals and is second in points, but has been held without a point in five of his last six games.

X Factors

Chicago Blackhawks: Forward, Andrew Shaw: 14 G, 11 A, 25 P

Shaw has three goals over his last five games and seems to be excelling playing on the second line. He brings a certain level of toughness and intensity each game and the Blackhawks will need him to continue that tonight.

Minnesota Wild: Forward, Nino Niederreiter: 9 G, 17 A, 26 P

After going through a stretch of recording eight points over eight games, Niederreiter has slowed down and only has one point over his last four games. He is expected to be on the top line with Parise tonight and could be instrumental to helping ease Parise back in his return. 

Tonight's game starts at 7 pm. CT.

Let's Go Hawks!

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