After giving up 11 goals while losing their previous two games, the Blackhawks played tougher defence, were more disciplined and paid the Wild back for their 5-3 win Saturday in Chicago.
Jason Pominville had a goal for the Wild, his third in two games to tie it at 1 midway through the second period, but Niklas Backstrom never found his footing in the net. After making 33 saves against the Blackhawks two days before, his first start following a seven-game absence because of a lower-body injury, Backstrom stopped 23 shots.
Marian Hossa caught Backstrom looking the wrong way behind the net and fed Sharp for a snap shot from just outside the crease over Backstrom's opposite shoulder late in the first period. This was just Sharp's second goal of the season. He was quiet last season, too, returning from injury to find his rhythm in the playoffs and help the Blackhawks win their second Stanley Cup championship in four years.
Late in the second period, Backstrom turned aside Leddy's shot, but Kane beat him to the rebound and circled the puck around to the other side where Brookbank was waiting for a slap shot. Backstrom collided with rookie defenceman Matthew Dumba as he was trying to climb up and reposition himself in the crease.
Then in the third period, Saad scooted past Dumba on a rush to draw Ryan Suter over in coverage. Saad then pivoted to flick a perfect drop pass to Kane, who skated in front of Dumba to tap in an easy goal and give the Blackhawks a 4-1 lead.
Chicago's power play has been only so-so. Leddy's goal was a positive step for that unit. But penalty kill has been a bigger early season problem for the Blackhawks, who entered the night last in the NHL with a success rate of only 72.2 per cent. They were perfect, though, in this one against the Wild.
The Wild lost in regulation at home for the first time in seven games, falling to 4-1-2 this month. They gave up four goals in standard 5-on-5 situations, more than one-third of their league-best total this season. They have allowed 11 in 13 games.
NOTES: Brandon Pirri, moved up to centre on the second line, had two assists for the Blackhawks. ... Mikael Granlund assisted on Pominville's goal for his team-high eighth of the season. ... The Wild were again without two of their top three defencemen, Keith Ballard (seven straight games, upper body) and Jonas Brodin (three straight games, broken cheekbone). ... Hossa has 21 points in 24 career games against the Wild. ... The Wild wore their new white jerseys at home for the first time.
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