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Central Division showdown: Blackhawks host Wild on Sunday

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The Western Conference’s two current wild teams square off.

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Chicago Blackhawks David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

In the Chicago Blackhawks final home game of 2017, its another Central Division opponent skating into the United Center on Sunday night, as the Hawks host the Minnesota Wild.

Minnesota played yesterday, snapping a four-game win streak in a 3-2 loss during a Saturday matinee with the Edmonton Oilers. Alex Stalock handled the net in that game and is expected to do the same on Sunday night with Devan Dubnyk sidelined by a lower-body injury that happened earlier this week, which could have him out for the rest of this calendar year. Stalock pitched a shutout against Toronto on Thursday before losing to Edmonton on Saturday. Elsewhere, Jared Spurgeon is supposed to return to the lineup after missing about three weeks with a groin injury. Where he slots into the lineup remains to be seen, as Ryan Suter and Matt Dumba have made a solid D pairing in Spurgeon’s absence. The rest of the forward lines will look awfully familiar, exempting the name Zach Parise, who remains out following preseason back surgery.

Nothing new to report for the Blackhawks’ lineup. Both Jan Rutta and Cody Franson remain sidelined with their injuries and could be back against the Dallas Stars on Thursday. The forward groupings and D pairings remain the same as they did during last Thursday’s destruction of the Winnipeg Jets.

Chicago and Minnesota each have a win in the 2017-18 version of this rivalry, with the road teams reigning victorious each time. These are the two current wild card teams in the Western Conference, because talking about playoff standings just 32 games into an 82-game season is apparently a thing now. But this game remains of the highest importance on the regular season scale, as piling up wins against a divisional opponents in December — the Hawks are in the middle of three straight divisional games — is one way to ease the process of clinching a playoff spot by April.

Starting lineups

Blackhawks

Position Players
Position Players
F1 Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Alex DeBrincat
F2 Nick Schmaltz - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane
F3 Ryan Hartman - Vinnie Hinostroza - Patrick Sharp
F4 Lance Bouma - Tommy Wingels - John Hayden
D1 Duncan Keith - Jordan Oesterle
D2 Michal Kempny - Brent Seabrook
D3 Gustav Forsling - Connor Murphy
Goaltender Corey Crawford

Wild

Position Players
Position Players
F1 Nino Niederreiter - Mikko Koivu - Mikael Granlund
F2 Jason Zucker - Eric Staal - Charlie Coyle
F3 Marcus Foligno - Matt Cullen - Joel Erikkson Ek
F4 Tyler Ennis - Daniel Winnik - Chris Stewart
D1 Ryan Suter - Matt Dumba
D2 Jonas Brodin - Jared Spurgeon
D3 Mike Reilly - Nate Prosser
Goaltender Alex Stalock

How to watch Blackhawks vs. Wild

Time: 6 p.m. CT

Location: United Center, Chicago

TV: NBC Sports Chicago