The Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild occupied the top two spots in the Western Conference as recently as Dec. 26 before recent slumps contributed to their drop in the standings.
Coming off much-needed victories, Chicago and Minnesota meet Thursday night at the United Center.
The Blackhawks beat the then-conference-leading Wild 4-3 in a shootout in the most recent meeting Dec. 14 - part of Minnesota's eight-game losing streak from Dec. 13-28.
At that time, Chicago was in the midst of taking over the West lead by going 10-2-1 from Dec. 2-30.
The Blackhawks (25-13-5), though, followed that run by losing four straight before a 5-2 win over Columbus on Tuesday, pulling into a tie for the Central Division lead with surging St. Louis.
Minnesota (22-15-6), currently seventh in the West, ended a 1-8-3 slump with a 5-4 shootout win over San Jose on Tuesday.
"That was the team we were three weeks ago,'' coach Mike Yeo said.
Matt Cullen scored in the third period and added a goal in...