(SportsNetwork.com) - The Minnesota Wild take a second crack at clinching a playoff spot on Tuesday evening when they begin a very tough three-game road trip versus the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Wild failed in their first bid last night to secure a postseason bid, losing 2-0 to the Winnipeg Jets. Minnesota is only two points up on Winnipeg for the first wild card spot in the Western Conference, but can secure a playoff berth with a victory tonight and a loss by the Los Angeles Kings to the Edmonton Oilers.
It won't be easy for Minnesota, which concludes the regular season with three straight on the road against the top three teams in the Central Division. After visiting the third-place Blackhawks, the Wild take on the second-place Nashville Predators on Thursday before a trip to division-leading St. Louis on Saturday.
Minnesota does come into this road trip having won 10 straight as the guest since a loss in Vancouver on Feb. 16.
Devan Dubnyk gave up both goals on 34 shots faced last night as the Wild have now dropped three in a row for the first time since a six-game drought from Jan. 3-13.
"This was a very even hockey game tonight," said Wild coach Mike Yeo. "They found a way to make a couple plays that we didn't."
Dubnyk is likely to make his 38th straight start tonight and is 3-6-0 lifetime versus the Blackhawks with a 3.81 goals against average and .895 save percentage in 10 games (11 starts).
Forward Matt Cooke could return to the Minnesota lineup tonight for the first time since Feb. 1. The veteran has missed the last 30 games following an operation to correct a sports hernia.
The Blackhawks have three games left to make a run at a Central Division title as they trail the Blues by three points. They also are two points behind the Predators in the standings and all three teams are in action tonight.
Chicago, though, had a four-game win streak snapped with a 2-1 setback to St. Louis on Sunday. Kris Versteeg had a goal and Corey Crawford made 31 saves in defeat.
"We're definitely disappointed with the outcome, but we still got some things to sort out this week and see how it plays out," said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.
Chicago lost defenseman Kimmo Timonen to an upper-body injury in the first period after he took a hit along the boards and did not return. Timonen is day-to-day.
The Blackhawks are wrapping up their regular-season home schedule tonight as they visit the Blues and Colorado Avalanche to close the slate. Crawford is likely to start tonight and is 7-4-2 versus the Wild with a 2.29 GAA and .920 save percentage in 14 games (13 starts).
Chicago had a four-game winning streak over the Wild snapped with a 3-0 loss on Feb. 3 in Minnesota. Dubnyk posted a 24-save shutout, but the Blackhawks have won the past three meetings at home in this series.