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Wild, Blackhawks battle at X

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It's a prime-time (7 p.m.), nationally televised (NBC Sports Network) showdown tonight between the Wild and Blackhawks -- one team already in the NHL playoffs (Chicago) against a team that is almost a lock to get in (Minnesota).

For the Wild, it's the first of three key games at Xcel Energy Center, which also includes visits from St. Louis (Thursday) and Columbus (Saturday). Getting at least four points should go a long way to distance Minnesota from 9th-place Phoenix in the Western Conference.

Right now, Minnesota has 46 points -- the Coyotes, 40 points.

The Wild still trail Vancouver for the Northwest Division lead. Last night, the Canucks beat Phoenix, 2-0, to open up a four point cushion. The Canucks have nine games left, the Wild have 10 games remaining. The division winner also gets the the third seed in the playoffs.

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