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Khabibulin gets first shutout in nearly a year, Chicago blanks Minnesota 3-0

CHICAGO - Nikolai Khabibulin had to wait nearly a year between shutouts.

Chicago's star goalie finally got another one, making 38 saves to lead the Blackhawks to a 3-0 win over the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night. Rookie Dave Bolland scored two goals and NHL rookie points leader Patrick Kane also scored for the Blackhawks, who are 5-1-1 in their last seven.

"We played a pretty good defensive game," Khabibulin said. "The biggest thing from my perspective was to control the rebounds. The couple of times rebounds were lying around, the guys took care of it."

Khabibulin, who missed Chicago's last three games with a mild right knee sprain, got his 37th career shutout and first since March 6. It was only his second since signing with the Blackhawks as a free agent before the 2005-06 season.

Minnesota's Josh Harding stopped 27 shots. The Wild is 4-2-1 in its last seven, but none of the wins were in regulation. They lost to Vancouver 3-2 in overtime on Tuesday night.

"We played hard, better than last night against Vancouver," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. "We were more intense on the puck," Lemaire said. "We just gave them two goals without any effort by them."

Kane scored the only goal of the first period 3:49 in. Trailing on a rush, he fired in a rebound after Harding had made a point-blank pad save on Robert Lang's one-time shot.

Bolland's goal with 19.4 seconds left in the second period made it 2-0. Shortly after a Chicago power play expired, Bolland beat Harding between the legs with a shot from the left circle after taking a pass from Rene Bourque.

"He's got some skill and he's very smart," Chicago coach Denis Savard said.

Khabibulin made several tough saves in the second as the Wild outshot the Blackhawks 16-10.

Among Khabibulin's best stops were two on defenceman Brent Burns early in the period. He made a sprawling close-in save on Burns at 3:40, then a glove save during a Minnesota power play about 30 seconds later.

Burns hit the left post with a shot from a slot during a power play with four minutes left in the period.

Harding stopped Kane on a breakaway with a glove save with 7:48 left in the second.

Bolland made it 3-0 with his second goal of the game at 5:24 of the third. From the left side of the crease, he converted a rebound of Duncan Keith's shot.

Khabibulin made several more close-in saves in the third to preserve his shutout. Among them was chance by Minnesota's Aaron Voros with 7:50 left.

Keith Carney and Brian Rolston had shots hit metal late in the third period.

"Quite honestly, I got lucky a few times," Khabibulin said. "They hit the post three times and, one time, a guy had a wide open net and hit his own player. I'll take it."

The Wild's Matt Foy left the game seconds later after being hit in the face with a rebound of a second shot by Voros.

Foy wasn't seriously injured and after the game said he "had a headache."

Notes: Blackhawks C Jason Williams returned after missing 35 games following a groin injury and sports hernia surgery. ... Chicago LW Ben Eager missed his fifth game with a concussion and C Yanic Perreault missed his second with a cracked bone in his wrist. ... Minnesota LW Derek Boogaard sat out his 11th game with back injury.



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