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GAMEDAY: Wild at Chicago

Thursday, 04.03.2014 / 10:54 AM

Mike Doyle - Managing Editor

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GAMEDAY: Wild at Chicago
Minnesota Wild vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Minnesota Wild (39-26-11: 89 points, 7th in Western Conference, 4th in Central Division) at Chicago Blackhawks (42-19-15: 99 points, 5th in Western Conference, 3rd in Central Division)
A winding roadie ends tonight in the Windy City. The Minnesota Wild looks to close out its four-game road trip in style in Chicago against a Central Division opponent, the Blackhawks. Minnesota has won two-straight on the road, both thanks to third-period comebacks.

After being eliminate by the defending Stanley Cup champions in the first round last year, the Wild has had the Hawks number this season, leading the season series 3-1-0.

A win tonight would help bolster Minnesota’s grip on the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. The Wild has a four-point lead on both the Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes, with the Stars playing one less and Phoenix playing one more game than Minnesota.

The Wild got a boost at yesterday’s practice as goaltender Josh Harding skated with the team for the first time since mid-January. The backstop has been skating for the past few weeks and felt good enough to return to the ice with teammates. There is no timetable or expectations for Harding’s return to game action, just that the netminder is taking his return day-to-day.

Harding could be significant because young goaltender Darcy Kuemper is sidelined with an upper-body injury. Kuemper left Monday’s morning skate in Los Angeles and was unable to backup starter Ilya Bryzgalov. Yesterday, the Wild called up John Curry from Iowa and he’s expected to serve as backup tonight.

Forward Mikael Granlund will be out of the lineup after suffering an upper-body injury on Monday against the Kings. Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo didn’t have an update on either Granlund or Kuemper at yesterday’s skate.

With Granlund out, rookie Erik Haula will move up to the second line between Jason Pominville and Matt Moulson. It will be an expanded role for Haula, and Yeo said that he’d like to see the pivot show more creativity offensively, while maintaining his defensive game.

The Wild recalled forward Jake Dowell from Iowa yesterday to help on the checking line. The former Blackhawk is expected to center Dany Heatley and Stephane Veilleux. Nino Niederreiter comes out of the lineup after suffering an upper-body injury against the Kings. Yeo said after the team's morning skate that the team doesn't want to risk a setback and would rather have him at 100 percent.

On Monday, Minnesota earned a dramatic third-period come-from-behind victory over the Los Angeles Kings, 3-2. Moulson started the third period rally and Mikko Koivu scored the game winner, his 10th of the season. Zach Parise scored on the power play in the opening period. Bryzgalov made 18 saves to improve to 4-0-2 with the Wild.

The Blackhawks lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-1, but suffered an even bigger blow losing its captain Jonathan Toews to an upper-body injury. Sheldon Brookbank scored the Hawks lone goal and goaltender Corey Crawford made 23 saves in the loss.

With the Wild on the road, it continues to look for fan engagement with the Red Baron Roadie. The contest is how fans can win great items like autographed merchandise, and maybe even a spot on the 2014-15 Fan Road Trip. Visit the contest rules page for more info on how to enter.
If You're Going
The defending Stanley Cup champions have stumbled recently, losing three-straight games. Things won’t get better for the Hawks, as captain Jonathan Toews will miss the remainder of the regular season with an upper body injury.

Chicago and the Colorado Avalanche have all but assured a first-round playoff meeting, yet to be determined is home ice. The Hawks have squandered a once-handy lead over the Avs; on March 2 Chicago led by five points. Now, Colorado leads by three with a game in hand. 
The first 10,000 fans into the United Center will receive a Blackhawks jersey lunch bag. You might as well go early and pick one up because you won’t want to miss the singing of the National Anthem tonight.

The Wild will wear its WHITE sweaters tonight.
Who's Hot Gameday Media
Mikko Koivu scored his fourth game-winning goal Monday, setting a career high for most game winners in a single season, and tying Brian Rolston for second-most in franchise history (21). He currently owns a six-game point streak (2-7=9) — his longest of the year.

Fans can guess who's going to be hot with the Wild's HotBox Fantasy Challenge for a chance to win great prizes.

Wild.com
Game Notes | Transactions | Injury Report | Lighthouse | @mnwildLIVE | @mnwild
WildTV
Yeo | Dowell | Haula |
PONDcast
Coming Soon
Probably Wild Lineup Between The Pipes
Here’s what the expected lines look like:

Parise—Koivu—Coyle
Moulson—Haula—Pominville
Cooke—Brodziak—Fontaine
Veilleux—Dowell—Heatley

Recent college free agent signing Christian Folin isn’t expected to make his NHL debut tonight:

Spurgeon—Suter
Prosser—Brodin
Blum—Scandella 
Bryzgalov gets his third-straight start tonight. He is 8-6-4 with a 2.55 goals-against average, a .914 save percentage and one shutout in 20 games (18 starts) against Chicago.
View From The Press Box

Great to see him out on the ice, but even better, I thought he looked really good…This is the first step, and we'll try to figure out some plan for him going forward.

- Yeo on Harding
Forwards Nino Niederreiter, Mike Rupp and Cody McCormick are expected be the scratches. Defenseman Keith Ballard and Clayton Stoner both have lower-body injuries. Kuemper and Granlund have upper-body injuries.

Forward Jason Zucker (surgery) and goaltender Josh Harding (illness) are on Injured Reserve. Niklas Backstrom is shutdown for the remainder of the season.
Honorary State of Hockey Resident Worthless Stat
D Nick Leddy is a native of Eden Prairie. The Wild has won two straight games and its last three wins have come after third-period comebacks (3/23 at DET, 3/29 at PHX and 3/31 at LA). Minnesota ranks T-7th in the NHL with 76 third-period goals, while allowing 62 third-period goals, sixth-fewest in the NHL. Minnesota is on pace to outscore its opponents in the third period for the first time since 2008-09.


Broadcast Info In Case You Missed It
Wild at Blackhawks will be broadcast nationally in high definition on NBC Sports Network with a start time at 7:00 p.m. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.            
Wild.com
Best Of The Web | Prospects Report | Wild Recalls Curry, Dowell | Five Takeaways at LAK | 5-Hole at LAK |
WildTV
Yeo - April 2 | Folin - April 2 | Harding - April 2 |
PONDcast
  Wild Weekly Featuring Matt Moulson | Folin - April 1 |
Photo Gallery
Wild at Los Angeles | A Season In Hugs
2013-2014 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 03 '14MIN 2 at CHI 3 - SOM. Hossa
Jan 23 '14CHI 1 at MIN 2M. Cooke
Dec 05 '13CHI 3 at MIN 4M. Scandella
Oct 28 '13CHI 5 at MIN 1S. Brookbank
Oct 26 '13MIN 5 at CHI 3J. Pominville
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
J. Pominville77272653+01665
Z. Parise62282351+1126135
M. Koivu60103949+02224
M. Moulson70222547-23094
R. Suter7773542+113030
M. Granlund6383341-32222
N. Niederreiter76132134+104021
D. Heatley75121527-191842
C. Coyle65111627-73321
M. Cooke77101626+55403
J. Spurgeon6352025+121421
K. Brodziak7761622-35901
J. Fontaine6213821+62211
J. Brodin7481119+02030
M. Scandella7131417+101801
E. Haula414610+102700
K. Ballard45279-73700
T. Mitchell58189-32100
N. Prosser48257+15602
J. Zucker21415+2211
C. Stoner62145-68200
C. McCormick38145-65000
S. Veilleux30202-31900
Z. Konopka36112-55500
M. Dumba13112-5210
M. Rupp12011+11300
J. Blum10000-1000
B. Bulmer5000-2200
C. McMillan1000+0000
J. Dowell1000-1000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
J. Harding2918-7-3466901.65.933
D. Kuemper2612-8-4607022.43.915
I. Bryzgalov289-8-8738022.76.909
N. Backstrom215-11-2555463.02.899
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
P. Sharp77314273+133892
P. Kane69294069+722106
J. Toews76284068+263455
D. Keith7665157+182633
M. Hossa67272956+262044
B. Saad74192645+232032
B. Seabrook7773340+251830
A. Shaw75191736+97452
K. Versteeg76122234-33411
N. Leddy7772431+15841
M. Kruger7772027+73401
N. Hjalmarsson7742226+113401
B. Smith70111223+4211
M. Handzus5641115+01602
J. Oduya7431215+93801
B. Bollig777714+28501
B. Bickell5411213-62302
B. Pirri286511+6610
P. Regin584711-62000
M. Rozsival38167+43000
S. Brookbank43246+25001
J. Morin19156+23200
M. Kostka9213+3801
J. Nordstrom11112+1200
D. Rundblad16011-1600
T. Teravainen3000+0000
B. Mills3000-1000
J. Hayes2000+1000
M. Carey1000-1200
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
C. Crawford5630-15-1012014602.23.918
A. Raanta2212-4-4545442.58.901
N. Khabibulin41-0-114745.00.811
K. Simpson10-0-0276.00.714
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