CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks outshot and outworked Minnesota. Thanks to Wild goalie Josh Harding they came up empty anyway.
Harding made 41 saves, Marian Gaborik scored two goals and the Wild handed the Blackhawks their eighth straight loss, 5-2 Friday night.
Matt Foy, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Mark Parrish also scored for Minnesota, which won its second straight despite being outshot 43-16. The Wild’s Eric Belanger had two assists.
“He (Harding) played very well, made some great saves at different times, which gave us the opportunity to get goals and win the game.” Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. “It’s nice to have confidence in the goalie.”
With the game tied at 1 in the second period, Harding made several key saves. He also caught a break when a shot by Chicago’s Rene Bourque beat him, but was swept off the goal line by Minnesota defenceman Kurtis Foster.
Minnesota then took a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes, despite being outshot 16-6 in the second period.
“They shot from everywhere and had a couple of rebounds,” Harding said. “Before I wasn’t making the big saves, but now I’m coming up with them.”
Added Gaborik: “Hards was great in the net. It’s not often you get outshot 43-16 and win the game. They had a lot of scoring chances.”
Brent Sopel and Martin Havlat scored for injury-depleted Chicago, which is 0-6-2 during its skid. Sopel connected in his first game – and second shift – after missing seven contests with a broken finger.
Nikolai Khabibulin made only 11 saves. He stopped just three of six shots in the second period.
“We played hard and had enough chances to win.” Chicago coach Denis Savard said. “I hate to blame Habby (Khabibulin) for the loss.
“I’d rather look to the other side, how well the other goalie played,” Savard added. “But he knows they’re not good goals.”
Minnesota has won nine consecutive games against Chicago. The Blackhawks last defeated the Wild on Oct. 23, 2005, and are 0-6-3 against Minnesota during the streak.
The Blackhawks played without six regulars: defenceman James Wisniewski (knee); and forwards Jonathan Toews (knee), Jason Williams (groin), Kevyn Adams (knee), Dave Bolland (broken finger) and Ben Eager (concussion).
“We’re working hard, but pucks don’t seem to go in for us,” Chicago defenceman Brent Seabrook said. “We made some pretty big mistakes and gave them some pretty good looks.”
Sopel opened the scoring 3:49 in after picking off a pass by Minnesota defenceman Brent Burns. Sopel skated straight down the slot and beat Harding on the stick side for his first goal this season.
Foy tied it at 1 at 6:36 of the first. After circling from behind the net, he stuffed a shot past Khabibulin’s pads from the left side of the crease.
Chicago outshot Minnesota 16-6 in the second period, but the Wild led 4-1 after 40 minutes. Harding made point-blank saves early in the second on Patrick Sharp and Robert Lang.
Bourque beat Harding with a close-in shot at 8:07 of the period, but Foster swept out the puck just before it crossed the goal line.
Originally referee Dave Jackson signalled a goal on the play, but it was disallowed following a video review.
Gaborik made it 2-1 1:20 later. Following a turnover by Chicago’s Dustin Byfuglien at centre ice, Gaborik snapped a shot from the left circle into the upper right corner of the net.
Bouchard’s power-play goal with 6:44 left in the second extended the Wild’s lead to 3-1. His shot from the slot deflected in off Sopel.
Parrish made it 4-1 with a minute left in the second. Following a faceoff in the Chicago zone, he ripped a low shot from the top of the right circle under Khabibulin’s right pad.
Havlat scored a 5-on-3 power-play goal from the slot at 1:11 on the third to cut it to 4-2. But Harding was unbeatable the rest of the way, making several sharp saves.
Gaborik added an empty-net goal with 1:35 left in the third.
Notes: Gaborik has six goals and five assists in his last seven games. … Minnesota C Mikko Koivu returned on Friday after missing 24 games with a fractured left leg and assisted on Bouchard’s goal. … Wild LW Derek Boogaard missed his 13th game with a back injury. Minnesota RW Branko Radivojevic sat out with a stiff neck.