ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- The rested Minnesota Wild improved their
chances for the postseason by dampening Chicago's.
Dwayne Roloson stopped 21 shots, and Wes Walz scored the
game-winning goal in the second period to lead the Wild to a 2-1
victory Wednesday night over the Blackhawks.
The Wild, who tied a franchise record with 26 wins, picked up
two crucial points in the tight Western Conference standings while
Chicago, which came into the game ninth in the West with 56 points,
failed to gain ground.
"This is a tough team to play against and this was a big two
points because they are getting close to us in the standings,''
The Wild have 61 points.
Marian Gaborik, fresh off notching a goal and two assists in
Sunday's All-Star game, came up empty on four shots, including a
penalty shot in the first period. But he did pick up an assist on
the game's first goal.
Kyle Calder scored Chicago's lone goal, and Jocelyn Thibault
made 23 saves for the Blackhawks, who have lost three of the last
four games on their current seven-game road trip.
"It's not the lack of chances,'' Chicago coach Brian Sutter
said. "We get opportunities like we did tonight. Roloson was
After a scoreless first period, Filip Kuba gave the Wild a 1-0
lead on a power-play goal after picking up a missed pass just below
the left circle. Gaborik tried to find Andrew Brunette on the left
side of the net, but the puck skipped out to Kuba, who slapped it
past Thibault at 3:50 of the second.
Just 2:49 later, Walz took a breakaway pass that appeared to
skip off a defender's skate and beat Thibault to the glove side for
his eighth goal to make it 2-0.
But Calder got Chicago back in the game by tipping in Nathan
Dempsey's hard shot from just below the blue line at 13:35 of the
second period to pull the Blackhawks to 2-1.
The Wild blew a chance to pad their lead after a Chicago penalty
gave them a five-on-three advantage. They caught the Blackhawks off
guard and broke away toward the goal four-on-one, but couldn't get
the shot off.
Chicago had a last chance to tie it when Pierre-Marc Bouchard
was called for tripping with 38 seconds left to give the Blackhawks
the man advantage. But Roloson stopped a slap shot by Phil Housley
and Chicago couldn't get off another try.
"We look at the stats every day,'' Chicago's Jon Klemm said.
"We definitely have to start winning some games. This is playoff
hockey here and we can't afford to drop too far back in this
Wild coach Jacques Lemaire thought the game had a a playoff
"Every game will be tight from here on out,'' he said.
Gaborik was awarded a penalty shot at 12:38 of the first period
when he was pulled down on a breakaway by Steve Poapst.
The crowd came to its feet as Gaborik, the Wild's first-ever
All-Star, readied to take his shot. But Thibault calmly made the
save off his pads, bringing a collective groan from the crowd.
"After a penalty shot, the next few shifts are key,'' Lemaire
said. "I felt we were very strong after that and had a number of
Matt Johnson was scratched. Johnson left
Tuesday's practice with lower back pain and was questionable for
the game. ... The Wild attempted their first penalty shot of the
season. Their last one came March 26, 2002 at St. Louis. Antti
Laaksonen scored against Brent Johnson. ... The Blackhawks play in
Calgary on Thursday, at Edmonton on Saturday and at Vancouver on
Monday before returning home on Feb. 12 against Toronto.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: Xcel Energy Center Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota
Referees: Kevin Pollock, Brad Watson Linesmen: Wayne Bonney, Dan Schachte
Attendance: 18,568 (102.8% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
No scoring this period
Filip Kuba (4)
(Power Play) Assists: Marian Gaborik, Jim Dowd
Wes Walz (7)
Assists: Jason Marshall, Antti Laaksonen