After overcoming home-ice disadvantage to beat the Nashville Predators in six games in their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series, the Blackhawks will have home-ice advantage in the second round.
The upstart Minnesota Wild beat the St. Louis Blues 4-1 on Sunday at Xcel Energy Center to clinch their first-round series 4-2 and advance to the second round against the Hawks.
It will be a rematch of their second-round series last year, when the Hawks broke from a 2-2 series tie to beat the Wild in six games. It will be the third consecutive season the Hawks will face the Wild in the postseason. They beat the Wild in five games in the first round en route to the Stanley Cup championship in 2013.
The Hawks were 3-2-0 against the Wild this season, but 0-2-0 against them with goaltender Devan Dubnyk, who sparked the Wild’s rush toward the playoffs in the second half of the season. With Dubnyk in goal, the Wild beat the Hawks 3-0 at Xcel Energy Center on Feb. 3 and 2-1 at the United Center on April 7. Dubnyk stopped 56-of-57 shots in those two games.
The Wild went 27-9-2 since acquiring Dubnyk from the Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 14 for a third-round draft pick in 2015. Though he played only 39 games with the Wild, Dubnyk was named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy. He had a 1.78 goals-against average and .936 save percentage in the regular season. (Dubnyk was 9-5-2 with a 2.72 GAA and .916 save percentage in 19 games with the Coyotes).
Dubnyk has been a little more fallible in the playoffs against the Blues. He allowed three goals in a 4-1 loss in Game 2 at Scottrade Center and was blitzed with six goals on 17 shots and was pulled in the second period of a 6-1 loss in Game 4 at Xcel Energy Center.
Overall, Dubnyk allowed 13 goals in six games, with a 2.32 goals-against average and an .912 save percentage in the first-round.
The Wild came into the playoffs with momentum. On the day they acquired Dubnyk, they were in last place in the Central Division (18-19-5, 41 points) and 12th in the Western Conference. They went 28-9-3 the rest of the way to finish in fourth place in the Central Division (46-28-8, 100 points) and the No. 1 wild-card spot in the conference.