Marco Scandella scores first goal, Wild top Blackhawks

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Last spring, the Chicago Blackhawks
disposed of the Minnesota Wild in five games of the first-round playoff series
on their way to the Stanley Cup championship.

With the Blackhawks now a Central Division rival in the
realigned NHL, the Wild have their hands full. But they’ve clearly closed the
gap.

Marco Scandella’s slap shot with 1:48 left, the defenseman’s
first goal this season, lifted the Wild to a 4-3 win over the Blackhawks on
Thursday.

“Against a team like Chicago, coming back, it feels
good,” Scandella said. “It’s a great feeling in the room right now.
We battled all game. We stuck with it, which is the important thing.”

The Wild have won two of three meetings with the Blackhawks
this season.

“Anytime you beat a team like that, it’s important.
Everybody knows how good they are,” said star Zach Parise. “For us,
it’s been a tough stretch for us where some games we haven’t played as well as
we need to, but I thought we played a lot better tonight.”

Jonas Brodin scored on a power play with 5:39 remaining to
tie the game for the Wild, who raised their home record to 12-3-2 and handed
the Blackhawks their first loss in their past seven road games.

With Charlie Coyle partially screening Corey Crawford at the
edge of the crease, Brodin wound up and sent the puck ricocheting off
Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya and past the goalie’s outstretched glove.

Crawford made 19 saves.

“He’s got to be better,” Blackhawks coach Joel
Quenneville said.

After nearly taking a 2-0 lead into the second intermission,
the Wild suddenly trailed 3-2 after a forceful Blackhawks comeback. The first
two of Chicago’s four shots on goal in the third period got past Minnesota
goalie Josh Harding, first by Brandon Saad and then by Marian Hossa.

The Blackhawks had a season-low 19 shots.

“That’s a hungry team, and they play smart defensively.
They’re tough to create offensive chances against,” Blackhawks captain
Jonathan Toews said.

Harding stopped 16 shots and improved to 7-3 in his career
against the Blackhawks, who entered the night with an NHL-high 44 points. He’s
12-1 at home this season.

The Wild went six consecutive games without a first-period
goal until Matt Cooke snapped a shot past Crawford. Parise’s score on a power
play, the first by the Wild in seven games, in gave them a 2-0 lead they had
until 16.6 seconds were left before the end of the second period.

Joakim Nordstrom deflected the puck behind him through the
slot, where Jeremy Morin arrived to reach forward and guide the puck in one
motion past Harding, who was coming off a 2-0 shutout of Philadelphia on Monday
night. Morin and Nordstrom were both recalled on Wednesday from Rockford of the
AHL.

Then just 43 seconds into the third period, Saad checked
Ryan Suter off the puck, took control and snapped a shot into the top right
corner of the net to tie the game.

Less than 6 minutes later, Hossa got loose down low on a
power play and sneaked a wrist shot over Harding’s shoulder for the lead.

“You’re not going to play perfect against that team.
They’ve got a boatload of skill, and they find ways to make plays, but I
thought that we did a really good job of limiting them, containing them, keeping
them to the outside,” coach Mike Yeo said.

After their six-game winning streak on the road, the
Blackhawks returned home on Tuesday and lost to Dallas 4-3 despite 50 shots on
goal.

This was quite the contrast in offensive opportunity.

“Six minutes to go with a one-goal lead, generally
that’s our bread and butter. Tonight we didn’t get it done,” Quenneville
said, adding: “We had the momentum, but it was one of those games where
the momentum turned quickly in their favor. We’re still tied. Let’s get it to
overtime and see what happens, but they got the break and we got nothing.”

The Blackhawks were lamenting those two penalties they
failed to kill.

“Like the last game, we thought we had control and let
it slip. It’s frustrating to give up points like we have the last couple
games,” Toews said. “It’s pretty simple. We need to be better.”