Pavol Demitra scored the only shootout goal, and the Wild rallied to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on Sunday night for their third straight victory overall and on the road. Before starting its current streak with a win at Vancouver on Thursday night, Minnesota had dropped 11 consecutive games on the road. The Wild hadn’t won three straight road games since last February.
“I think the game in Vancouver was huge,” Minnesota’s Wes Walz said. “After we got that win, there was such a relief around our room to get the monkey off our back.
“I squeeze my stick all the time, but even our skilled guys were squeezing their sticks. Getting that win, guys starting playing more loose and more relaxed.”
The Wild, who also won at Edmonton on Friday night, might have gotten lucky on Sunday in handing the Blackhawks their sixth straight loss. A possible shootout goal by Denis Arkhipov, Chicago’s third shooter, was disallowed after a video review. Minnesota goalie Manny Fernandez stopped the shot, then it nearly trickled over the goal line.
“That was a goal,” Chicago coach Denis Savard said. “We’ve got it on our TV. Why? Ask the NHL. I’ve got no idea. It doesn’t make any sense.
“The puck is this much in,” Savard added, gesturing a two-inch gap between his fingers. “The referees said it was a goal.”
Fernandez, who had 38 saves, disagreed.
“I didn’t think it went in,” Fernandez said. “The play ends when the puck stops moving and I’ve got control of it.”
Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Marian Gaborik and Walz scored in regulation for Minnesota.
“We’ll take the two points,” Walz said. “We’ve had a couple of breaks on some goals in overtime.”
Tuomo Ruutu, Martin Havlat, Cam Barker scored in regulation for Chicago.
With Minnesota trailing 3-1, Gaborik scored short-handed late in the second period and Walz connected midway through the third to tie the score.
Gaborik, playing for the fifth time after missing 34 games due to a strained groin, got his fifth goal in the last three games.
Barker, recalled earlier in the day from Norfolk of the AHL, scored on a 5-on-3 power play for his first NHL goal.
The Blackhawks are 1-7-1 in their last nine games, immediately following a 9-3-3 run after Denis Savard took over as coach on Nov. 27.
Barker’s goal snapped Chicago’s 0-for-11 slump on the power play, and was the Blackhawks’ third in 21 5-on-3 advantages this season. Chicago has only three power-play goals in its last 44 chances overall.
Chicago’s Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 24 shots in his 18th straight start.
After a scoreless first period, Ruutu and Havlat scored 29 seconds apart in the opening minute of the second to give Chicago a 2-0 lead.
Ruutu had his first goal in 13 games just 30 seconds into the period. After his initial shot was blocked, he slid a second attempt underneath Fernandez’s pads. Havlat made it 2-0 when he took Duncan Keith’s crisp feed from the left point and tucked in a backhander.
Bouchard pulled Minnesota to 2-1 at 1:36. He stole the puck from Chicago defenseman Dustin Byfuglien and then fired a shot between Khabibulin’s legs.
Barker made it 3-1 on the two-man advantage with 8:05 left in the second. He connected from the right circle, beating Fernandez on the stick side.
Gaborik’s short-handed goal with 3:14 left in the period pulled the Wild within one, and Walz tied the score at 7:55 of the third.
During a power play in overtime, Arkhipov was stopped point-blank by Fernandez and then hit the post with the rebound.
Notes: The Blackhawks placed defenceman and captain Adrian Aucoin on injured reserve with a pulled groin. Aucoin, suffered the injury Wednesday against Buffalo and didn’t play Saturday night at Detroit. He missed 11 games earlier this season with the same condition. To take Aucoin’s place, the Blackhawks recalled Barker from Norfolk. Sunday’s game was Barker’s second in the NHL. … Chicago RW Adam Burish missed his second game with an elbow injury. D Lasse Kukkonen was a healthy scratch. … Minnesota D Kim Johnson sat out his second game with a lower body injury. RW Mark Parrish missed his third, also with a lower body injury. LW Derek Boogaard sat out his third with a head injury.