THE STORY: The Chicago Blackhawks will look for their second straight win Thursday when they visit the Minnesota Wild. The Blackhawks snapped a four-game winless streak on Tuesday when they posted a 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Wild are also coming off a win with a 5-4 shootout triumph over the visiting San Jose Sharks. This is the second of four meetings between the two Western Conference foes. Chicago won the first contest with a 4-3 shootout victory. Patrick Kane’s memorable slow-motion multi-deke goal was the shootout winner. Marian Hossa, Michael Frolik and captain Jonathan Toews scored for the Hawks, who received 27 saves from Ray Emery. Kyle Brodziak, Matt Cullen and captain Mikko Koivu answered for Minnesota.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET. FS-NORTH (HD), CSN-Chicago
ABOUT THE WILD (22-15-6): Koivu and Cullen scored in the shootout and Josh Harding stopped Ryane Clowe and Michal Handzus in Minnesota’s last outing. Cal Clutterbuck, Warren Peters, Nick Johnson and Cullen scored in regulation. Harding made 34 saves to improve to 8-4-2 on the season. The Wild, who are 2-7-1 in their last 10 games, will look to Dany Heatley for continued offense. He has four goals and seven points in his last seven games.Minnesota has scored just one power play goal in its last 31 opportunities. The Wild are 1-8-3 over that 12-game span.
ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (25-13-5): Chicago, which is 4-5-1 in its last 10 games, is in second place in the Central Division. Viktor Stalberg had a hat trick to lead the Blackhawks past Columbus. Ben Smith and Dave Bolland also scored, while Corey Crawford made 32 saves to improve to 16-10-3 on the season. He shares the net with Emery, who will get the start against Minnesota. Emery is 9-3-2 this season. Toews has won 45 of 59 faceoffs over his last three games, while Hossa has four assists in as many games and Bolland has goals in consecutive contests for the Blackhawks.
1. Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom is 12-11-4 this season with two shutouts.
2. Chicago is 15-5-4 at home, while Minnesota is 10-9-3 on the road this season.
PREDICTION: Blackhawks 3, Wild 2.