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Wild win 3-2 to keep Blackhawks winless on the road
After slugging it out toe to toe with the champion Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night, the Blackhawks didn't get much of a break as they faced another Western Conference heavyweight Monday night.
The Hawks took on Northwest Division-leading Minnesota and had their six-game points streak snapped as the Wild won 3-2 in front of 18,568 at the Xcel Energy Center. The defeat dropped the Hawks' record to 3-3-3 and kept them winless on the road at 0-3-1.
The Hawks outshot the Wild 36-18 and held a 1-0 lead. But Minnesota, the only team yet to lose a game in regulation this season, reeled off three straight goals — all assisted by Mikko Koivu — to hand them the loss.
"We outshot them, but I don't think we played the way we intended to," said Patrick Sharp, who put the Hawks ahead early in the first period.
"We thought that we tried to make too many cute plays, centering pucks into their defensive zone coverage, and it cost us."
The Hawks grabbed the lead when defenseman Brian Campbell worked his way in deep with the puck and spotted Sharp moving in to the right of Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom. Campbell slid a cross-ice pass to Sharp, who one-timed it past Backstrom for his team-leading sixth goal of the season.
Minnesota's Andrew Brunette, Antti Miettinen and Brent Burns all scored against Hawks goalie Cristobal Huet to give the Wild a 3-1 edge through two periods.
Trailing 2-1 but pressuring Backstrom, a turning point for the Hawks came when they failed to capitalize on a 1-minute-7-second two-man advantage midway through the second.
The Hawks managed three shots, including a terrific chance by Patrick Kane from in close, but Backstrom steered them away.
"I always feel if you don't score on a five-on-three you don't deserve to win the game, and that's generally the result," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said.
"They're as disciplined as there is in the league as far as they never give up many opportunities against them."
Minnesota has not allowed a power-play goal in 22 chances this season, and Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said halting the five-on-three was key.
"It was huge," he said, "especially against that team. You look at the five guys that were out there, they have pretty good players. It was scary."
Duncan Keith's second goal of the season with 4:34 remaining in the third cut the Wild's lead to 3-2. Keith stole the puck in the Minnesota end and blasted a slap shot from the right faceoff dot that Backstrom got a piece of, but the puck trickled into the net.
"We did a lot of things well, but at the same time we did talk about the way they play and the way that we needed to play against that," Keith said. "We kind of played right into their hands."
Huet finished with 15 saves and fell to 1-2-1 on the season, while Backstrom had 34 saves and improved to 6-0-1.
"I don't think we really tested them too much," Sharp said. "We got some pucks toward the net, but we didn't have the traffic and bodies in front. He's a world-class goaltender. He's going to make those saves from the outside. It's something we need to learn from."