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Wild look to continue positive trends against rival Blackhawks on Wednesday

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The Minnesota Wild will try to repeat their feat of beating the Chicago Blackhawks while playing back-to-back when the Central Division rivals meet in St. Paul on Wednesday night.

The Western Conference-leading Wild are expected to be listed as home betting favorites by puck drop against the Blackhawks at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

While Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks wear the braid of having won the Stanley Cup three times in the last seven seasons, Minnesota is 8-0 straight-up in the teams’ last eight regular-season meetings, according to the OddsShark NHL Database. Chicago, which is in the midst of a six-game road stretch, is 6-2 in divisional road games this season. The Wild are an identical 6-2 in divisional home games.

Minnesota had a road game against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. The Wild are 3-2 this season when they played the previous day, including a victory against the Blackhawks on January 15.

Chicago is 32-17-5 this season, but has wobbled of late with a 5-5 record in their past 10 games. While goaltender Corey Crawford was an all-star selection this season, he has been somewhat off his game recently, allowing at least three goals in four of his last six starts.

The Blackhawks have long had some of the best forward depth in the league, but they have struggled this season to get production out of the lines that don’t include Kane or Jonathan Toews.

Minnesota is 35-12-5, good for the top spot in the Western Conference, and is 7-3 in its last 10 games. The Wild proved they are for real with a 9-2-1 record in January and have a diverse attack with the likes of Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter and Jason Pominville.

All-star goaltender Devan Dubnyk, like his counterpart Crawford, has had some midseason regression, allowing three or more goals in five of his last eight starts. Dubnyk did have an excellent 38-save effort against Winnipeg on Tuesday, and got the win the only time this season that he started a game after also starting the previous day.

The total has gone under in only two of the Blackhawks’ last eight games as a road underdog. The total has gone over in seven of Chicago’s last 10 games, including four of their six most recent road games. The total has gone over in eight of Minnesota’s last 10 games, with one push.

Ewan wins Stage 11; Conti keeps pink jersey in Giro

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NOVI LIGURE, Italy (AP) Caleb Ewan of Australia sprinted to victory on the 11th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Wednesday, while Italian cyclist Valerio Conti remained the overall leader.

Ewan, who rides for Lotto-Soudal, edged out Arnaud Demare and Pascal Ackermann in a bunch sprint at the end of the entirely flat 221-kilometer (137-mile) route from Carpi to Novi Ligure.

Conti remained 1 minute, 50 seconds ahead of Slovenian cyclist Primoz Roglic, who is one of the favorites, and 2:21 ahead of Nans Peters of France.

It was the second victory at this year’s Giro for the 24-year-old Ewan, who also won the sprint at the end of the eighth and longest stage on Saturday.

The Giro finishes in Verona on June 2.

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Lightning heavy favorites on Stanley Cup odds at all-star break

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The NHL has a team far out in front in the overall standings as it heads into its all-star break – and that might serve to goose the value of other Stanley Cup contenders.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, who have been first overall for most of the season, are the +260 favorite on the latest Stanley Cup odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Lightning, with a deep offense led by Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos and a premiere defenseman in Victor Hedman leading their back end, lead the NHL in points, wins, goals scored and goal differential.

The top of the futures board also includes the Western Conference-leading Calgary Flames (+550), San Jose Sharks (+750), Toronto Maple Leafs (+800) and Winnipeg Jets (+800).

As loaded as the Lightning are, the top team in the regular season rarely lifts the Stanley Cup in the spring. The 2008 Detroit Red Wings are the most recent team to finish first overall and go on to win the whole thing in a full 82-game season. Only eight of 33 Presidents’ Trophy winners have also won the Stanley Cup.

Calgary is a solid second favorite, with left wing Johnny Gaudreau and defenseman Mark Giordano being among the NHL’s best at their positions. As a western Canada-based team, the Flames are also likely to fly under the radar of public bettors. Their question mark revolves around goalies David Rittich and Mike Smith having almost no Stanley Cup playoff experience.

Sticking in the Pacific Division, San Jose is a springtime-seasoned team, having made the final in 2016, and their current standing has come with dynamic defenseman Erik Karlsson working his way back to peak form after adapting to a new team.

At this stage of the game, bettors looking for value in a league that prides itself on parity should consider teams with greater than 10/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup. The cluster of teams that includes the Nashville Predators (+1400), Vegas Golden Knights (+1500), New York Islanders (+1600), Pittsburgh Penguins (+1600) and defending champion Washington Capitals (+2000) includes plenty of playoff experience.

The Penguins are always a threat with Sidney Crosby and have weathered injuries, including one to No. 1 goalie Matt Murray, during the first four months of the regular season. The Predators and Golden Knights are the two most recent Western Conference finalists and are both strong puck-possession teams, while the Islanders are under the command of head coach Barry Trotz, who steered Washington to its first Stanley Cup in 2018.

It might be best to fade the Capitals, though, until such time that No. 1 goalie Braden Holtby shows he can recover his past form.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.