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Minnesota Wild vs. Chicago Blackhawks. Wild Zach Parise celebrated after beating Chicago goalie Corey Crawford for a goal in 2nd period action. (MARLIN LEVISON/STARTRIBUNE(mlevison@startribune.com)

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Minnesota Wild vs. Chicago Blackhawks. Wild celebrated a first period goal by Matt Cooke beating Chicago goalie Corey Crawford on the play. (MARLIN LEVISON/STARTRIBUNE(mlevison@startribune.com)

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Late goal gives Wild 4-3 victory over defending champions

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT
  • Star Tribune
  • December 6, 2013 - 6:44 AM

 

It happened in a span of less than seven minutes, sending a chill through Xcel Energy Center that matched the frigid air outdoors. Chicago, the best team in the NHL, took a 2-0 Wild lead and turned it inside out by scoring three consecutive goals.

In years past, that might have been enough to knock the Wild off its game. Not on Thursday, when the team was determined to scratch its way out of a slump. “We’ve got a lot of great leaders on this team,’’ defenseman Marco Scandella said. “Everyone stood up and said, ‘You know what? We’re just going to battle. We’re going to keep going.’ ’’

That perseverance was rewarded when Scandella smashed a shot from the blue line that beat Chicago goalie Corey Crawford with 1 minute, 48 seconds remaining, giving the Wild a 4-3 victory. After losing its grip on the lead when Marian Hossa scored at 6:35 of the third period, the Wild dug in and got goals from a pair of unlikely sources — Jonas Brodin and Scandella, who scored his first of the season — to take another step out of its recent doldrums and back toward the high standard it set in November.

The Wild erased a number of troubling trends as it improved to 12-3-2 on home ice. It scored in the first period for the first time in six games, taking a 1-0 lead on Matt Cooke’s goal, and it ended a six-game drought on the power play with two goals on three chances. Brodin netted the second with 5:39 left to tie the score, and Scandella’s even-strength goal gave the Wild its first home victory in regulation over Chicago since Oct. 27, 2008.

Coach Mike Yeo praised his team for sticking with its system when it could have collapsed. He said it produced “probably 57 of the best minutes we’ve played all year,’’ and the players were gratified that the other three didn’t spoil it.

“This team has a lot of resilience,’’ said Cooke, who has two goals in the past three games. “This team believes in the way that we play. We all felt good; we felt like we had control of the game. We stuck to it.’’

The late rally continued a happy trend for the Wild: In five of its past seven victories, the winning goal has been scored in the final five minutes. After halting a four-game winless streak with a shutout of Philadelphia on Monday, it was looking to distance itself from the inattention to detail that ended a grand November with a thud.

It got a stiff test from Chicago, which entered the game with an NHL-best 44 points and 105 goals. The Wild limited the quality chances it gave the Blackhawks, frequently keeping them on the perimeter and blocking 17 shots as it held them to a season-low 19 shots on goal. Zach Parise scored the Wild’s first power-play goal on a rebound late in the second period to give his team a 2-0 lead.

Jeremy Morin’s goal with 17 seconds remaining in the second period gave the Blackhawks a jolt of energy. Brandon Saad stole the puck from Ryan Suter and beat goalie Josh Harding at 43 seconds of the third, and Hossa’s power-play goal put Chicago ahead.

An excellent shift by the Wild’s top line ended with Jason Pominville drawing a hooking penalty on Brent Seabrook. The Wild — which had been yearning for more scoring from its defensemen — got the equalizer from Brodin before Scandella unleashed a shot that Brodin called “a bomb.’’

“Against a team like Chicago, coming back feels good,’’ Scandella said. “We stuck with it, which was the important thing.’’

 

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