Wild-Blackhawks Preview

The Chicago Blackhawks' bid for a Central Division crown took a big hit with their latest loss.

They've got a game sandwiched between the rematch, and a home loss to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night will about end any such hopes of passing St. Louis and Nashville.

The suddenly slumping Wild (44-27-8), meanwhile, have a chance to clinch a postseason spot by extending their franchise-best road winning streak to 11 games.

To assure themselves a wild-card spot, they'll need a win and a Winnipeg regulation loss in St. Louis. The Wild could also clinch with a win and a Calgary loss of any kind to Arizona or a Los Angeles loss of any kind in Edmonton.

The Blackhawks (48-25-6) had already done that while winning four straight prior to Sunday's 2-1 home loss to the Blues, moving St. Louis into first place with 105 points. Nashville is second with 104 and Chicago has 102. All three teams have three games remaining, and the Blackhawks head to St. Louis on Thursday.

"It seems like when we play these guys, it's always a one-goal game," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville told the team's official website. "We pushed at the end. I thought we had stretches where it was OK, but at the end of the day, it was a big four-point swing."

Kris Versteeg scored for the first time in 17 games, while Marian Hossa extended his points streak to five games with an assist.

Corey Crawford lost for the first time since allowing four goals on 13 shots before being pulled in the first period of a 5-2 loss to Columbus on March 27. In the 2-1-0 stretch that's followed, he posted a 2.01 goals-against average and .942 save percentage. He also has a 1.96 GAA and .947 save percentage over a 3-1-0 span against the Wild.

The Blackhawks have won three of four in the season series while scoring at least four goals in each win, though the injured Patrick Kane had a hand in eight of those 13 goals.

They've also won three in a row in Chicago against the Wild, and Jonathan Toews has nine points in his last five home games in the series. Minnesota points leader Zach Parise has one assist in his last five games against Chicago.

Minnesota hasn't allowed over three goals in 33 games, though over a 0-2-1 span it has only scored four. That includes Monday's 2-0 loss to Winnipeg, which cost the Wild a chance to earn a playoff berth in their home finale.

It was also their first loss by more than a goal in 34 games and allowed the Jets to pull within two points of them for the first wild-card spot. However, a win and Jets loss would give them a four-point advantage while holding the tiebreaker of total regulation and overtime wins. The Flames and Kings are three points back.

"We still control where we finish, so I think we'll all take that," Parise said.

Devan Dubnyk started his 38th straight game, 37 of which have come with Minnesota. Over a 24-7-2 span dating to Jan. 27, no one else has been in goal for the Wild while he's posted a 1.69 GAA. During the 10-game road winning streak, he's got a 1.19 GAA and .963 save percentage. In the second game of back-to-backs, he's 5-0-1 with a 1.67 GAA.

They could need those numbers considering their final three games come at Chicago, Nashville and St. Louis. In Chicago, Dubnyk is 1-3-0 with a 4.48 GAA in five starts.

Chicago could be without defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who left Sunday's game in the first period with an upper-body injury. He's considered day to day.

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