Series recap: The Blackhawks lead the series 2-0 after winning the first two games in Chicago. They defeated the Wild 4-3 in Game 1 and 4-1 in Game 2. It was the first time the Wild lost consecutive games in regulation since goaltender Devan Dubnyk joined the team in January. The Blackhawks have built a 2-0 series lead on the Wild the last three years in the playoffs. The Blackhawks won the previous two series.
The Blackhawks have been especially effective scoring off the rush against the Wild. Five of their eight goals have come in that fashion.
“I think those just happened like that,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Tuesday. “We got some breaks, [a] couple fortunate [ones], but the transition game and a couple quick ups is what you look for, but it’s tough to generate off the rush against this team. In zone is just as tough, so I think scoring is always going to be challenging and chances are tough to come by, so we’ll take whatever we get, and I don’t think it’s by design. I think whatever production we get in goal scoring, I mean we’ll take them on the power play as well.”
Jumping out: The Wild will be looking to score first and get out ahead of the Blackhawks in Game 3. The Wild haven’t had a lead in the series yet. The Blackhawks scored first in the first two games. The Blackhawks are 38-10-2 when scoring first and 16-10-4 when trailing first this season. The Wild are 38-6-4 when scoring first and 12-26-4 when trailing first. The Blackhawks are the league’s best team when leading after two periods. They went 25-0-0 in the regular season and are 3-0 in the playoffs. The Wild are 32-2-2 when leading after two periods.
Star production: The Blackhawks are getting production from their top players. Their points leaders are Duncan Keith (10 points), Patrick Kane (10 points), Jonathan Toews (nine points), Patrick Sharp (eight points) and Marian Hossa (seven assists). The five players have combined for 44 points and the rest of the team has 29 points. Zach Parise leads the Wild with seven points, and they have eight players between 3-6 points.
In and out: Wild forward Chris Stewart will miss Game 3 due to an upper-body injury he suffered when he crashed into the end wall during Game 2 on Sunday in Chicago. He’s listed as day-to-day. As a result, Jordan Schroeder will return to the lineup for only the second time this postseason.
“I’m excited. Focused. Ready to bring what I bring,” said Schroeder, who brings an added element of speed to Minnesota’s lineup.
The 24-year-old forward made his NHL playoff debut in Game 2 of the team’s first-round series against the St. Louis Blues and logged 8:50 of ice time. During the regular season, he played 25 games and had three goals and five assists for eight points, including a plus-9 rating. Despite his lack of playing time, Schroeder said he’s ready to go.
“That’s what pros have to do. You have to be ready to go mentally,” he said. “I’ve been working hard when I’m not in to be prepared for this moment. I’ll have a lot of excitement and hopefully feed off of that energy.”
Wild coach Mike Yeo also said there could “definitely” be other lineup changes. Ryan Carter could make his 2015 postseason debut. The 31-year-old forward has 43 games of Stanley Cup playoff experience. He appeared in 23 of 24 games for the New Jersey Devils in 2012 when the team advanced to the Cup finals. He also won a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.
As Yeo explained, the reason Carter has not been in the lineup yet this postseason is due to the team’s effectiveness.
“He’s a guy that’s easy to root for because of his character and his work ethic, the way he competes, the way he plays for his teammates,” Yeo said.
If Carter is inserted into the lineup, that means Erik Haula could be a healthy scratch. He made his 2015 postseason debut in Game 2.
The Blackhawks are not expected to make any lineup changes. Forward Kris Versteeg participated in the morning skate after recently suffering a lower-body injury. He did not play in Games 1 and 2.
Home ice: Down 0-2, Minnesota hopes to take advantage of home ice at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild are 2-1 at home this postseason. Minnesota is 12-12 all-time in postseason play in St. Paul, including 7-2 in the last two postseasons at home. Twice last spring, the Wild trailed their opponents by two games and were able to even the series at 2-2 in both the first- and second-round series against the Colorado Avalanche and Blackhawks.
“There’s been a lot of comparisons from this year to last year, but it’s a whole new year,” Parise said. “Last year, good or bad doesn’t have any impact on what we’re doing today and how those first two games went. I just don’t think we can expect to come home and play better just because we did it last year; that’s not how it works. We have to be a lot better.”
The Blackhawks have not fared well on the road in Game 3s. They are 1-9 in Game 3s away from the United Center under Quenneville.
Birthday boy: Dubnyk turned 29 years old Monday and he’s hoping to celebrate with a win over the Blackhawks. He understands the Blackhawks are a dangerous and experienced team that has taken full advantage of its opportunities in the first two games. Chicago’s sharpshooters have had success against Dubnyk and he’ll need to be on his game Tuesday night to keep the Wild in this series and avoid being on the brink of elimination.
“The position we’re in now, we just have to take it one game at a time,” Dubnyk said. “I know we’ve been talking about that all year, but it becomes especially important now. We’ll use our fans and our home ice as an advantage. We’ve got to go out and get this game. That’s all we can concentrate on.”
Brandon Saad-Jonathan Toews-Marian Hossa
Duncan Keith-Michal Rozsival