The Chicago Blackhawks have dominated the Minnesota Wild in the first two games of their Western Conference semifinals series. On Tuesday, they’ll look to take a commanding lead when Game Three is played in Minnesota.
The defending champs won the first two games by three goals each. They now have a six-game winning streak in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs. The Wild are looking for their first victory of the series, after needing seven games to reach the second round.
Andrew Shaw won’t play for Chicago in Game Three. A lower-body injury that he suffered in the series opener kept him out of action in Game Two, and will keep him sidelined on Tuesday. In the playoffs, the center has registered two goals and two assists in seven games. Shaw might be ready for Game Four, but Brandon Bollig could be asked to step up, after being benched in the previous contest. Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson will be on the ice, even though a puck to throat has left him temporally unable to speak.
Goalie Darcy Kuemper was on the ice Tuesday, looking to return from an injury that knocked him out of the deciding game in Minnesota’s first-round victory. The 24-year-old, though, is still not ready to get back in action. He won four of his five starts, after replacing a struggling Ilya Bryzgalov in Game Two against the Colorado Avalanche. Bryzgalov will look to improve in Game Three, having allowed seven goals on 42 shot attempts in this series.
Even at home, the Wild aren’t expected to get their first victory against the Blackhawks. Chicago’s betting odds at most Las Vegas casinos are listed at -130. Minnesota comes in at +110.
CNBC will broadcast the game nationally at 9 p.m. ET. Viewers can watch a free live stream online with NBC Sports Live Extra.
There is little reason to believe that the Wild will be able to turn this series around. Chicago is playing as well as any team in the NHL, having won six straight. Their offense is playing extremely well, scoring 23 goals in their last six games. Bryzgalov is only starting because of an injury to Kuemper, and he hasn’t proven that he can stop an attack led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell.
Chicago 4, Minnesota 2