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The continued adventures of the baffling Blackhawks hit the United Center ice Wednesday night.
A night after getting hammered against a St. Louis team just above them in the standings, the Hawks outclassed the top team in the Northwest Division. They had beaten the Minnesota Wild just once in their last 10 meetings, but shut it out 3-0 before a crowd of 17,812. The victory was the Hawks' fifth in their last seven games coming on the heels of a five-game skid.
"We all hate losing," said rookie Dave Bolland, who scored two goals against the Wild. "It was a big loss [Tuesday night], 5-1. We knew we had to bounce back, and that's what a good team does—we bounce back and win."
Nikolai Khabibulin made 38 saves to record the 37th shutout of his career. It was the Hawks' first shutout as a team this season and Khabibulin's first since blanking the Kings in Los Angeles on March 6, 2007.
"I saw the puck pretty well for whatever reason," Khabibulin said. "Some nights it happens and I'll just take it. Most of the shots were from the outside. The biggest thing from my perspective was to control the rebounds, and that was pretty good. A couple of times a rebound was laying around and the guys took care of it."
For the fifth straight game and eighth time in the last nine, the Hawks scored first as Patrick Kane scored his 14th of the season. Jordan Hendry fed Robert Lang in front, and Minnesota goaltender Josh Harding made the save. But the rebound kicked to Kane, and he put it home at the 3-minute-49-second mark.
The Hawks made it 2-0 on Bolland's second goal of the season with 20 seconds remaining in the second period. Rene Bourque put a cross-ice pass onto the tape of Bolland's stick, and Bolland fired a wrist shot between Harding's pads.
Bolland's second of the night came midway through the third to make it 3-0 as the rookie poked in a rebound of a Duncan Keith shot for his first career multigoal game.
"I wish I had an answer," coach Denis Savard said of the turnaround from the night before. "I don't know why we played like that last night, but I'm happy with how we responded."
The Hawks had gone 1-6-0-3 in the previous 10 meetings between the teams, and the victory moved them within six points of the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot as they hit the road for games Saturday in Los Angeles and Sunday in Anaheim.
Sitting outSavard said earlier in the week he had a tough decision to make when veteran Jason Williams returned from injury. Savard made it as alternate captain Martin Lapointe was a healthy scratch for the first time in 216 games with the Hawks.
"Tough call," Savard said. "Two games in two nights and I want to make sure I keep him fresh. He understands. It wasn't about his play. It's tough to sit one of your leaders out."
Williams, playing in his first game since Nov. 28 after undergoing surgery for a sports hernia, played on a line with fellow winger Patrick Sharp and rookie center Jonathan Toews. He recorded one shot on goal in 13:32 of play.