The Chicago Blackhawks have lived up to expectations so far, sitting atop the Central Division and surging of late.
The Minnesota Wild have greatly exceeded theirs.
Minnesota hosts Chicago on Wednesday night in a matchup of the Western Conference’s top teams.
The Blackhawks (18-8-4) improved to 6-1-1 over their last eight games with a 3-2 overtime win over San Jose on Sunday, getting the winning goal from Patrick Sharp in the extra session for the second consecutive game.
Chicago was outshot 33-13 through two periods, but it put 21 shots on goal through the third period and overtime, including Andrew Brunette’s goal with 1:06 left in regulation to tie the game with an extra skater on the ice.
Four of the Blackhawks’ last five games have gone past regulation.
“We stole it in overtime,” said Sharp, who also scored to beat the New York Islanders 3-2 on Thursday. “It wasn’t the prettiest game, but it’s what we’ll have to do down the stretch the rest of the way - win games like that, find a way to win the ugly ones.”
Sharp has nine goals and three assists over Chicago’s last eight games, and he’ll look to continue his hot stretch against a Minnesota team coming off its first loss in its last eight.
The Wild (20-8-3) fell 2-1 in Winnipeg on Tuesday, ending both their seven-game overall winning streak and a franchise-record seven-game win streak on the road. They were held to fewer than two goals for the first time since a 1-0 win over Colorado on Nov. 17.
Minnesota has lost six of eight against Chicago, scoring two goals or fewer in each defeat.
Guillaume Latendresse had the lone goal Tuesday for the Wild, who failed to take advantage of a power play in the final minute of the game.
“We kind of strayed away from the little things that we do that makes us successful,” defenseman Clayton Stoner said. “It’ll be good to try and come out (Wednesday) and redeem ourselves and play the kind of game we have been playing.”
Niklas Backstrom, 1-4-0 with a 3.56 goals-against average in his last six starts versus Chicago, made 25 saves Tuesday but lost for only the second time in his last 10 starts. He was making his second start after missing three games with a groin injury, and it’s unclear if he’ll start on back-to-back nights.
Emery has appeared in each of the last four games, going 3-0-1 with a 1.57 GAA.
“You feel better the more you play,” said Emery, who made 42 saves in beating the Wild 5-3 for Ottawa on Nov. 20, 2006, his only career start against Minnesota. “Even though they threw a lot of pucks at me (Sunday), I think I did a good job of sorting things out, not giving them second chances.”
Chicago winger Bryan Bickell will be back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch the last five games.
The status of Minnesota forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard is uncertain after he was checked into the boards from behind late in Tuesday’s loss.
Blog Coverage from SB Nation
- Oilers sign Connor McDavid to 3-year, entry-level contract
- Canucks invite giant 6-foot-9 goaltender to development camp (Photos)
- Connor McDavid officially shakes on entry level deal with Oilers
- Jonathan Toews gets ultimate honor of having beer named after him
- The baseball player so good they’re making another movie about him
- Braves defeat Max Scherzer on controversial walk-off single
- Report: Wes Matthews to join Dallas Mavericks on four-year deal
- Kenyon Martin: I'm retiring from professional basketball
- Alex Rodriguez will receive his 3,000th hit ball from Zack Hample
- Wimbledon Friday: Novak Djokovic cruises into fourth round
- Bubba Watson to paint over Confederate flag on General Lee
- Russell Wilson talks contract, baseball on 'Kimmel' (Videos)
- 2015 NBA free-agency tracker
- Free-agent roundup: Day 2 brings Wade resolution and Aldridge adjustments
- No felony charges for P. Diddy after UCLA kettlebell incident
- Ryne Sandberg, Jerry Dipoto and the uncomfortable nature of quitting