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Bouchard scores winning goal in shootout as Wild beat Blackhawks 3-2

Bouchard scored the winning goal in a shootout to carry the Wild to a 3-2 victory over the Blackhawks on Tuesday night, snapping a four-game losing streak. Bouchard scored the winner in the shootout, stuffing a back-hander into the net past Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin while falling down.

"I have to give credit to my younger brother for teaching me that one," Bouchard said. "He taught me that move in the summer and I figured now was a good time to bring it out."

Added Blackhawks coach Denis Savard: "It was a just a great move. Obviously it works."

Bouchard's brother Francois plays Major Junior hockey in Quebec. The elder Bouchard needed the shootout goal to avoid further irritating Wild coach Jacques Lemaire.

"I asked (Bouchard) to back check a few times in the third period and he wouldn't so I sat him down," Lemaire said.

Brian Rolston and Todd White also scored for the Wild and goalie Manny Fernandez stopped 27 shots for his first victory since Nov. 11.

The loss ended Chicago's three-game winning streak and prevented Savard from becoming the first Blackhawks coach to win his first four games.

Savard replaced Trent Yawney as head coach last week and was rewarded for his strong start with a contract extension through the 2007-08 season earlier in the day.

Brandon Bochenski scored his first goal of the season and Bryan Smolinkski added a short-handed goal for Chicago.

"You'd like to get two points in a game like this, but our overall effort was great," Savard said. "We knew they'd play well tonight."

Bochenski sneaked a wrist shot past Fernandez to give Chicago a 1-0 lead in the first period. White tied it eight minutes later before Smolinski snuck away with the puck and notched a short-handed goal at the end of the first to make it 2-1 in favor of Chicago.

Rolston took a pass from Wyatt Smith and tied the game with a breakaway goal early in the second period.

Fernandez, who has played poorly during the last month, stopped two Chicago shots in the game's final seconds to help send the game into overtime. He also received an ovation from the sellout crowd after stopping a Patrick Sharp wrist shot with 1:20 to play in overtime.

"(Fernandez) is enjoying the game again," Lemaire said. "The first part of the season he was happy and really enjoyed playing. He looked like that again tonight."

Khabibulin stopped 35 shots.

"We had some chances in overtime," Khabibulin said. "Hopefully next time they'll go in."

The Wild have played without Marian Gaborik for 20 games, Pavol Demitra for seven and Wes Walz for 11. All three players have skated with the team in recent days, but it is unclear when any of the three will return.

Chicago played without forward Martin Havlat, who has been out with an ankle injury since Oct. 20. Havlat traveled to Minnesota and skated with the team Tuesday morning, but was held out of the lineup. He could return Thursday against Phoenix.

Despite the injuries, Minnesota hopes Tuesday's win will get the team back on track at home. The Wild entered Tuesday's game 1-3-1 in its last five at home after starting 8-0.

After starting 9-2, the Wild had lost nine of its last 11 entering Tuesday's game and dropped to seventh-place in the Western Conference. Minnesota is 6-2 in shootouts this season.

Bouchard was the 11th shooter in the shootout. Sharp had a chance to send the shootout to another round, but his shot flew over the net.

Chicago is now 1-3 in shootouts, but continued to show signs that they will be an attacking team under Savard.

"That's how we're playing now," Bochenski said. "The fans in Chicago want to see some goals."

Notes: The last Blackhawks coach to win his first three games was Sid Abel in 1952. ... Chicago is 1-for-38 on the power-play in its last 10 games. ... D Keith Carney will serve as the Wild's team captain for December. ... The Xcel Energy Center has been named "Best NHL Arena" by SportsBusiness Journal/Sports Business Daily. It also was named "Best Fan Experience" by Forbes Magazine and was nominated for "Arena of the Year" by Pollstar magazine.


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