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Wild jump out to early lead, outlast Blackhawks' last-minute comeback

by The Associated Press, 1500ESPN.com Updated 8 months ago | 969 reads

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Jason Pominville and Matt Cooke scored first-period goals and Darcy Kuemper made 33 saves and the Minnesota Wild defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 on Thursday night.

The Wild, who lost to Chicago in five games in the first round of the playoffs last season, have won three of four against the Blackhawks this season. Chicago lost in regulation for only the second time since Dec. 15.

Kuemper was making his sixth consecutive start as Minnesota's top two goalies, Josh Harding and Niklas Backstrom, have been sidelined with health problems. The Wild are 5-3 with rookie in the net this season.

Patrick Kane spoiled Kuemper's shutout bid when he scored his 24th goal of the season with 31.2 seconds left to bring the Blackhawks to within one. But Kuemper stopped one final flurry in the last 10 seconds and Zach Parise cleared the puck from Minnesota's zone to run out the clock.

Pominville opened the scoring at 8:08 of the first period. Dany Heatley carried the puck across the Chicago blue line and passed to Mikael Granlund near the goal mouth. Granlund spun back around and slid the puck across the slot, where Pominville was waiting to send it in the open net for his 20th of the season.

The Blackhawks killed off a 5-on-3 power play, but Minnesota doubled its lead late in the first period. Justin Fontaine won a race to a loose puck and tipped it to Cooke, who slipped it past Antti Raanta from the left faceoff circle.

Kuemper got a little help from his defense to keep it 2-0 late in the second. During a Minnesota power play, Pominville tripped at the Chicago blue line and Marian Hossa pounced for a short-handed breakaway. But defenseman Ryan Suter caught up to Hossa just in time to prevent him from getting a clean shot.

The Wild welcomed Parise back on Thursday after the U.S. Olympic Team member missed 14 games with a broken left foot

The Associated Press
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