Both Chicago (45-27-13) and Minnesota enter the contest with 59 points, and are currently tied atop the Central Division. The Blackhawks’ 6-0 shutout loss at Washington extended their road losing streak to three games, but they’ve won four straight at home to start the new year.
The trip home will also see a new face added to the lineup, as Nick Schmaltz will play after being called up from AHL Rockford on Saturday. Schmaltz has six goals and three assists in 12 games with the IceHogs this season. Schmaltz was called up as a precautionary measure, as the status of Artem Anisimov was unknown after illness removed the Russian center from the team‘s practice Saturday. But Anisimov will play.
Anisimov has been a force offensively at home, scoring 13 of his 18 goals this season. His 18 goals lead the team, and his linemates Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane have been the cornerstone of the Chicago offense. Kane has showed his ability to put teammates in scoring position, tallying a goal and seven assists.
Minnesota (41-27-9) continues to climb in the standings, only dropping one game in regulation in their last 19. Riding the coattails of a 12-game winning streak in December, the Wild have assembled another win streak at three games. They’ve gone 16-1-1 in their last 18 games. Since falling to Chicago in the 2015 Western Conference semifinals, the Wild have won all five head-to-head matchups. The overall series record belongs to the Wild (36-40-1).
The Wild have a strong presence at center ice in Eric Staal, who holds the team lead in goals, assists, and points. The story for Minnesota this season, however, is goaltender Devan Dubnyk. With the league’s best goals-against average (1.77) and save percentage (.940), Dubnyk has been a major factor for the Wild in their run to the division lead.
For more on the Minnesota Wild, check out SB Nation’s Hockey Wilderness.
How to watch: Wild at Blackhawks
Time: 6 p.m. CT
Where: United Center, Chicago IL
TV: NBCSN (Stream: NBC Sports Live App)