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Chicago Blackhawks halt Minnesota Wild slide on Jonathan Toews' OT goal

By Brian Hall, The Sports Xchange
Chicago Blackhawks halt Minnesota Wild slide on Jonathan Toews' OT goal
Chicago Blackhawks Jonathan Toews scored at 3:09 of overtime as Chicago snapped an eight-game regular-season losing streak against the Wild with a 4-3 victory on Wednesday. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- In the unusual position of chasing the Minnesota Wild, Jonathan Toews and the Chicago Blackhawks placed a big emphasis on Wednesday's game in Minnesota.

Toews and company then went out and showed how important the game was to them.

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Toews scored at 3:09 of overtime as Chicago snapped an eight-game regular-season losing streak against the Wild with a 4-3 victory on Wednesday.

After Minnesota's Ryan Suter was called for holding in overtime, Toews tapped home a rebound between Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper's legs to send the Blackhawks to their third straight win, all on the road.

"Yeah, there was some added meaning to it, for our team anyways," said Toews, who added two assists. "We hadn't played since Saturday night, so it's not always easy to get back for those when you get a break. We got back to the way we want to play these road games right away early tonight, especially against this team.

"Had some energy and tried to wear them down, but obviously, it's a team that works pretty hard. They didn't go away. Nice for us to find that resiliency and find a way to get a power-play goal at the end."

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Ryan Hartman, Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik also scored for Chicago, who got 35 saves from goaltender Corey Crawford. The Blackhawks have ended Minnesota's season in the playoffs three of the last four seasons, but the Wild have held the regular-season edge lately.

Chicago then had three days in between games to prepare for Minnesota, which entered the day with a six-point lead in the Central Division and two games in hand. The Wild, meanwhile, played the previous night in Winnipeg to wrap up a long road trip.

"Yeah, it was a huge win," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We had to win the game to keep us within striking distance. They're on such a roll and the first game back from the road trip, tough game for them. And I thought Crawford was down the stretch, Jonny had a big game, we did a lot of big things had the start we were looking for as well and tough to give up that one at the very end, but certainly getting the two points was important."

Jared Spurgeon, Zach Parise and Erik Haula scored for Minnesota, which had won two games in a row and returned home for the first time since Jan. 26.

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Kuemper made 28 saves.

"I felt an intensity," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I'm sure when the playoffs occur, it will be a little more than what it was. I thought for the regular season it was a playoff mentality. It gets ramped up even more in the playoffs."

Minnesota tied the game with 3:03 remaining when defenseman Marco Scandella carried the puck all the way up the ice and then went to the left of Crawford. Scandella's centering pass was tipped home by Haula to set up overtime.

"It was kind of a playoff game environment, a little bit," Haula said. "It's always fun when you play those guys. We've had their number lately and I thought it was a really big point for us."

Chicago took a 2-0 lead before the Wild stormed back. Spurgeon scored 37 seconds after Hartman's goal and Minnesota tied the game midway through the second period on a nifty play by Parise.

Charlie Coyle entered the zone and sent the puck toward Parise at the goal, Parise tipped the puck purposely between his legs and then turned to collect the rebound after Crawford made the initial save. Parise shot quick for his 11th goal of the season, but the Blackhawks challenged whether Parise was offside.

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A video review went on for several minutes, with the on-ice officials even using a cell phone to speak with the league's situation room in New York. Parise skated back to the neutral zone while Coyle had the puck near the blue line. After more than six minutes, the league determined the review was inconclusive and the original call on the ice stood to tie the game.

"It's a fast game, it's tough for the refs to call everything and call it perfectly," Crawford said. "I know in the moment you want to swear at them and break your stick, but just sometimes you don't get it and you got to keep going."

Panik gave Chicago the lead again before the end of the second after he got the puck loose behind Kuemper and scored his 12th of the season.

NOTES:

-- Minnesota's eight straight regular-season wins against the Blackhawks was the fifth-longest current streak in the NHL against a single opponent and one behind the longest streak in franchise history. The last time the Blackhawks beat Minnesota in the regular season was Jan. 11, 2015.

-- Wild F Charlie Coyle played in his 284th straight game, establishing a franchise record. Coyle surpassed the previous record set by F Antti Laaksonen.

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-- Minnesota recalled D Gustav Olofsson from the AHL on Wednesday, reassigning D Mike Reilly to the AHL. Olofsson played in his second NHL game of the season, while D Christian Folin was a healthy scratch.

-- The Wild also scratched C Tyler Graovac.

-- Chicago scratched C Andrew Desjardins, W Jordin Tootoo and D Gustav Forsling.

-- The Wild began an eight-game homestand on Wednesday. They host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday. Chicago's six-game road trip continues Friday at Winnipeg.

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