Wild-Blackhawks Preview

The Chicago Blackhawks have displayed mediocrity in the new year, but it could be worse. The Minnesota Wild have essentially fallen apart since the middle of December.

Both teams will try to straighten things out Sunday night in Chicago as they meet for the second time in four days.

If the Wild (18-17-5) can’t figure things out, they’ll match a season-worst losing streak. If the Blackhawks slip up, they’ll drop consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 1-2. Since those losses, they’re 21-8-1.

Including their New Year’s Day defeat in Washington, though, the Blackhawks are 2-3-0 after Friday’s 5-2 loss in Edmonton.

Brandon Saad scored both goals and has five in his last seven games, but Chicago struggled in its own zone and has given up 3.20 goals per game in 2015.

"We gave up a couple of funny goals tonight," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville told the team’s official website. "We were in a good spot when it was 2-2 and that third one they got was a tough one. We were pressing in the third, but they were checking better with the lead than what we had seen prior. That’s what happens. We had enough chances tonight. The timing of the goals they scored was tough."

The loss to the Oilers followed a 4-2 win Thursday in Minnesota to give the Blackhawks three straight wins in the series, two of which have come this season.

Patrick Kane had a goal and two assists in both games and has 11 points on a six-game streak against the Wild. Bryan Bickell scored twice and has six goals in eight games in the series.

With Kris Versteeg injured, Bickell has seen time with Kane and Brad Richards on the second line.

"It’s nice to get some confidence and get (Quenneville) to believe and know that I can be on the ice," Bickell said. "I appreciate the opportunities. … I know goals come in bunches, so I just need to keep my nose down and dirty and keep playing."

Antti Raanta started in goal against the Oilers, so Corey Crawford figures to face the Wild with hopes of again stifling them. Crawford made 42 saves on Thursday in easily his best of eight games since returning from a lower-body injury. Prior to the injury, he was 12-5-1 with a 1.87 goals-against average. Since, he’s 4-3-1 with a 2.98 GAA, so there’s still work to do.

Including the postseason, Crawford has a 1.94 GAA over a 14-5-2 span against Minnesota.

Chicago now begins a four-game homestand, and the Wild head out on a three-game road trip in danger of their second five-game skid of the season. The first started on Dec. 16, and they’ve since gone 2-6-4 while allowing 3.92 goals per game.

Saturday’s 3-1 home loss to Nashville followed the loss to Chicago, and the Wild have been limited to seven goals in their last four.

"It doesn’t matter where we play, we’ve got to figure our game out and play hard," Charlie Coyle, who scored for the Wild. "We’ve got to turn this thing around."

Coyle scored for just the second time in 35 games since opening the season with goals in two of five. Fellow forward Nino Niederreiter, tied for second on the team with 14 goals, hasn’t scored in 11 games since getting one in a 5-3 loss in Chicago on Dec. 16.

Niklas Backstrom faced both the Predators and the Blackhawks this week and fell to 0-3-2 with a 3.66 GAA in his last six games. He’s got a 3.59 GAA over a 2-9-1 stretch as a starter versus Chicago.