The Chicago Blackhawks look to extend their winning streak to five games before embarking on a season-high road trip as they host the Central Division-rival Minnesota Wild on Sunday. The Blackhawks have allowed just six goals during their four-game run, with goaltender Corey Crawford playing a key role, and will head out for a six-game trek that begins Thursday in Dallas.
“We just played everything great,” Crawford told reporters after an impressive 5-1 win over red-hot Winnipeg on Thursday. “Our (defensemen) were solid. We didn’t give up that many chances, a lot of stuff to the outside. Guys were blocking shots, a lot of great plays offensively. That’s definitely a big win for us.” The teams have split a pair of meetings in 2017-18 and Chicago has captured four of its last five matchups with Minnesota, which had won four straight contests and six of seven overall before suffering a 3-2 setback against Edmonton on Saturday. “Obviously, I didn’t get them ready enough to play or they didn’t get themselves ready enough to play,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau told reporters. “Or maybe a combination of both.” Minnesota, which is opening a four-game road trip against the Blackhawks that ends at league-best Tampa Bay on Dec. 23, has struggled away from home (7-8-1).
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN North (Minnesota), NBCSN Chicago
ABOUT THE WILD (17-12-3): Defenseman Matt Dumba scored both goals in Saturday’s loss and Mikael Granlund notched an assist for his fifth point in the last five contests. Eric Staal leads the team with 28 points, including two goals and three assists over his last four games, while Jason Zucker has been kept off the scoresheet in three straight contests to remain second with 25. Veteran defenseman Jared Spurgeon (15 points in 23 games) could return Sunday after missing the last nine games with a groin injury.
ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (16-11-5): Patrick Kane has pulled within three goals of 300 for his career and posted five points in his last three contests to increase his team-leading total to 32. Rookie Alex DeBrincat continues to produce with four points in his last five games and captain Jonathan Toews is warming up with three goals and three assists in seven contests this month. Defensemen Jan Rutta and Cody Franson, both suffering from upper-body injuries, have begun skating but are not expected to be available until next week.
1. Crawford is 4-0-0 with a .952 save percentage in his last four games while Minnesota G Alex Stalock is 3-1-0 with a .935 save percentage in the same span.
2. Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu has gone 10 games without a point but has registered 13 shots in his last four contests.
3. Chicago C Artem Anisimov leads the team with 13 goals but has been held to one in seven games this month.
PREDICTION: Blackhawks 3, Wild 1