The Minnesota Wild own a six-point lead in the Central Division and have a tremendous opportunity to expand it as they kick off an eight-game homestand Wednesday against the second-place Chicago Blackhawks. Minnesota wrapped up a 3-1-0 road trip with a 4-2 triumph in Winnipeg on Tuesday and now begins a lengthy stretch in a building in which it has lost only six times in 23 contests.
Jason Pominville recorded two goals and two assists while Nino Niederreiter also scored twice for the Wild, who are five points ahead of San Jose for the top spot in the Western Conference. Chicago is seeking its third consecutive victory after beginning its six-game road trip with a loss in San Jose on Jan. 31. The Blackhawks bounced back with wins in Arizona and Dallas, and now look to avenge a 3-2 home setback against Minnesota on Jan. 15. Patrick Kane tallied in both of Chicago’s triumphs on the trek and is three away from reaching the 20-goal plateau for the 10th time in as many seasons in the NHL.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, Sportsnet, TVAS
LINE HISTORY: Lines were late to hit the board for this key Western Conference matchup, but when they were eventually released the Wild were pegged as slight favorites at -115. The total, not surprisingly, was set at 5.5. Check out the complete line history here.
Blackhawks – D M. Rozsival (Late Feb, lower body).
Wild – D J. Brodin (Mid Feb, finger), D V. Bartley (I-R, tricep).
ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (32-17-5, 21-22 O/U): Corey Crawford posted his 20th victory of the season Saturday, marking the sixth time in seven campaigns he has reached the plateau. It also was his 202nd career win, moving him past Ed Belfour for sole possession of third place on the franchise list. Kane netted both tallies in the loss to Minnesota last month – his only multi-goal performance this season.
ABOUT THE WILD (35-12-5, 32-20 O/U): Charlie Coyle will establish a franchise record Wednesday by playing in his 284th consecutive game, breaking the mark held by Antti Laaksonen. The 24-year-old Coyle collected three assists in Tuesday’s win, leaving him three shy of 100 for his career. Jason Zucker had his four-game point streak (two goals, four assists) halted by the Jets, keeping him one away from 100 in the NHL.
ICE GIRLS BATTLE:
– Blackhawks are 0-5 in their last 5 vs. a team with a winning record.
– Wild are 12-3 in their last 15 home games.
– Over is 5-1 in Blackhawks last 6 overall.
– Over is 19-4-4 in Wild last 27 overall.
– Blackhawks are 0-6 in the last 6 meetings.
Check out a complete list of hot and cold trends, here.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Lines were late being released so, as of publication time for this preview, there were no picks made on Covers for this matchup. View full consensus data here.