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Blackhawks must halt Wild's home streak to advance

Monday, 05.12.2014 / 5:05 PM

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

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Blackhawks must halt Wild's home streak to advance
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Minnesota Wild


(Chicago leads best-of-7 series 3-2)


Big story: The Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild are both perfect on home ice in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, which means the NHL's defending champions have quite a challenge ahead to close out the Wild at Xcel Energy Center in Game 6 of a Western Conference Second Round series.

The Blackhawks go into the game with a history of success on their side. Since 2009, they are 11-2 in games with an opportunity to clinch a series at stake. Chicago is also 13-0 over that same span in the fifth and sixth games of series that were tied 2-2.

"I don't think we ever think further than the next game," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Monday. "[Game 7] is not even in the back of our mind. We're going to Minnesota excited about the challenge and the opportunity that's in front of us. That's our focus and concentrating on winning that game. That's what it's all about."

Team Scope:

Blackhawks: Chicago will not have forward Andrew Shaw (lower-body injury) for a fifth straight game, but power forward Bryan Bickell played well in Game 5 and filled the void in front of the net on the top power-play unit. Bickell's goal on the man-advantage in the second period helped spark a dormant Blackhawks offense in a gritty 2-1 victory.

The trick is finding a way to take the effort from the final 40 minutes of that game and bring it to Minnesota. It might be cliché to say the last game is always the hardest to win, but defenseman Johnny Oduya said it's true.

"Yeah, guaranteed," he said. "You play opposition that they have to give everything they have. You're backed into a corner. I said that last year a couple of times. You don't want to have a hockey player backed into a corner. That's when they're at their best. With that said, I think we have the experience and the knowledge of that [so] we need to really be at our best to win the game."

Wild: Minnesota now has playoff experience to draw from, unlike a year ago. The Wild came back from the same scenario against the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference First Round, winning the final two games to advance and clinching Game 7 in overtime at Pepsi Center in Denver.

Minnesota is again in that same situation, but holds a 5-0 record on home ice in the playoffs and has outscored the opposition by a decisive 16-5 margin at Xcel Energy Center.

"This is just the challenge," coach Mike Yeo said Monday. "It is what it is. That's playoffs. That's what makes it great. I said this last time. It's the 'hard' that makes it great. You're gonna have days where you're ticked off and feel [terrible], but then you battle through it, you persevere and you push through it, and you find a way to respond to the challenge in front of you, and there's no better feeling than that."

Forward Matt Moulson and defenseman Keith Ballard missed Game 5 with injuries, skated Monday and will be re-assessed after the Wild's morning skate Tuesday.

Who's hot: Chicago left wing Patrick Sharp has points in back-to-back games and has one goal with four assists in the series. … Wild center Erik Haula scored the lone goal for Minnesota in Game 5 and has points in four of his past five games (two goals, two assists).

Injury report: The Blackhawks' Shaw (lower body) is supposed to start skating soon, but will miss his fifth straight game. … Moulson (upper body) and Ballard (unspecified) are questionable for the Wild, who will also be without forward Jason Zucker (quad) and goaltenders Josh Harding (illness), Niklas Backstrom (abdominal surgery) and Darcy Kuemper (upper body).

series schedule/results
DateScoreW. Goal
May 02 '14 MIN 2 at CHI 5 P. Kane
May 04 '14 MIN 1 at CHI 4 B. Saad
May 06 '14 CHI 0 at MIN 4 E. Haula
May 09 '14 CHI 2 at MIN 4 N. Niederreiter
May 11 '14 MIN 1 at CHI 2 J. Toews
May 13 '14 CHI 2 at MIN 1 - OT P. Kane
M. Hossa122911+4610
B. Seabrook92911+31710
P. Kane126410+5803
J. Toews125510+5614
B. Bickell12639+3820
D. Keith12268+5800
B. Saad12257+3201
P. Sharp12246+3400
A. Shaw7224+0810
M. Rozsival10134+0400
B. Smith12123+5200
J. Oduya12123+3600
K. Versteeg9123-1400
N. Hjalmarsson12033-3800
M. Kruger12112+2600
M. Handzus12112-4200
N. Leddy11022+0400
S. Brookbank6022+4000
B. Bollig9000-31400
J. Nordstrom7000-4000
P. Regin2000+1000
J. Morin2000-1200
C. Crawford128-4263771.97.931
Z. Parise1341014-3621
J. Pominville13279-3000
M. Granlund13437+3201
E. Haula13437+2001
C. Coyle13347-2611
M. Koivu13167-41000
R. Suter13167-5410
J. Spurgeon13336+0210
N. Niederreiter13336+0802
K. Brodziak12336-2200
D. Heatley11156+6400
M. Scandella13213+4000
C. Stoner13123+22600
M. Moulson10123+0400
M. Cooke6033+1800
J. Fontaine9112+0200
J. Brodin13022+31200
C. McCormick13101+11400
N. Prosser10000+21200
S. Veilleux4000+1400
K. Ballard3000-2000
I. Bryzgalov93-6211822.63.885
D. Kuemper63-1111272.03.913