Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 12/14/11
By JEFF BARTL STATS Writer 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. Rookie backup Matt Hackett - nephew of former Blackhawks goaltender Jeff Hackett - went 2-0-0 with a 1.01 GAA while Backstrom was hurt. Chicago coach Joel Quenneville announced Ray Emery will get his third straight start in net for the struggling Corey Crawford after making 35 saves Sunday. 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.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

49ers’ Anthony Davis officially applies for reinstatement

Jordan speaks out against shootings, donates $2 million

Report: Cromartie may be forced to retire due to hip issue

Greg Jennings announces retirement from NFL

Vikings OT Phil Loadholt retires after seven seasons in NFL

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Yankees, Cubs in 'final stages' of Chapman trade

Report: Fitzpatrick got ‘multiple contract offers’ from Jets

A-Rod: Ortiz deserves Fenway statue, street named after him

Report: Bosh's camp 'angry and suspicious of Heat's intentions'

JJ Watt pens dramatic letter to fans about back injury

Le’Veon Bell vows to win appeal: ‘I’m not going to miss games’

Cubs to acquire Aroldis Chapman from Yankees

Aldon Smith denies appearing in video with marijuana blunt

Twitter signs deal with to stream live MLB and NHL games

Julian Edelman is dating Adriana Lima?

NFL reportedly determines Peyton Manning didn't use PEDs

KD, Draymond Green booed in L.A. during Team USA exhibition

Top storyline for each NFL team heading into training camp

Eight MLB veterans that need to be traded before deadline

Andre the Giant drank six bottles of wine before match?

Cristiano Ronaldo spars with Conor McGregor in gym

Adam Silver is the new standard-bearer for league commisioners

Iowa football player held at gunpoint by police while playing Pokemon Go

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Effect of ban on Russia could span beyond the Olympic Games

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

QUIZ: Name every city to host the NBA All-Star Game

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

WATCH: NBA jersey sponsors that need to happen

Expansion draft playing heavy hand in the current NHL offseason

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker