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Antti Niemi makes 21 saves for seventh shutout of season, Blackhawks beat Wild 4-0

NHL.com @NHL

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Antti Niemi made 21 saves for his seventh shutout of the season and third in seven games and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild 4-0 on Wednesday night to snap a three-game losing streak.

Niemi made four saves during a 91-second 5-on-3 power play for Minnesota late in the second period, and held off the Wild the rest of the way to improve to 21-7-3.

Ben Eager had a goal and two assists for his second multipoint game of the season, Tomas Kopecky scored twice, and Jonathan Toews added a goal. The Blackhawks won for just the third time in their last 10 games.

Nicklas Backstrom finished with 31 saves for the Wild, shut out at home for the first time since Feb. 6, 2009 - a 2-0 loss to Nashville. It also was just the third loss for Minnesota in its last 14 home games against Chicago.

The loss also pushed the Wild to the brink of mathematical elimination from playoff contention.

Kopecky opened the scoring with 1:40 left first period and made it 3-0 at 5:55 of the third. It was Kopecky's second multigoal game in his last six contests, giving him five goals in that stretch after going 21 games with no goals and three assists.

Eager turned a Minnesota turnover in the neutral zone into the game's second goal when he corralled his own rebound to beat Backstrom glove side at 9:51 of the second period.

Minnesota managed just six shots until picking up four during the 91-second 5-on-3 advantage in the second. Niemi turned away all four shots, including an impressive sliding save on Mikko Koivu's point-blank offering with his right pad at 17:09.

Niemi is tied for second in the NHL with his seven shutouts, the most by a Chicago goalie since Jocelyn Thibault had eight in 2002-03.

Toews scored with 5:58 left in the third.

NOTES: In their first opportunity to face each other since being traded for each other on Feb. 12, Blackhawks D Kim Johnsson and Wild D Cam Barker both sat out due to injury. Johnsson missed his ninth straight game because of an upper-body injury, while Barker missed his third contest with a sprained ankle. ... Chicago LW Patrick Sharp's five-game points streak came to an end. ... The Blackhawks reached 100 points for consecutive seasons for the first time since 1970-72.

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