The last thing the Chicago Blackhawks
needed to see was a hot goalie — someone like Josh Harding
, for example.
The Hawks outplayed, outworked and outshot the Minnesota Wild on Friday night. But because of Harding, they didn’t outscore them. Harding stopped 41 shots and Marian Gaborik scored twice in the Wild’s 5-2 victory at the United Center, handing the Hawks their eighth straight loss.
Matt Foy ( 700K ), Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Mark Parrish also scored for Minnesota, which won its second straight game despite being outshot 43-16. Harding, who beat Detroit in relief in Thursday, made the difference as the Hawks dropped to 0-6-2 in their last eight.
''He 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 of his backup goaltender. ''It's nice to have confidence in the goalie.''
Harding did some of his best work in the second period, making several key saves to keep the score tied at 1-1. He also caught a break when a shot by Chicago's Rene Bourque beat him, but was swept off the goal line by Minnesota defenseman Kurtis Foster.
''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.''
Gaborik ( 700K ), Bouchard ( 700K ) and Parrish ( 700K ) scored in the second half of the middle period to put the Wild ahead 4-1 lead after 40 minutes, despite being outshot 16-6 in the second period.
''Hards was great in the net,” Gaborik said. “It's not often you get outshot 43-16 and win the game. They had a lot of scoring chances.''
Brent Sopel, returning after missing seven games with a broken finger, stole Brent Burns’ clearing pass and beat Harding 3:49 into the game to give Chicago a 1-0 lead ( 700K ). But the Hawks didn’t score again until Martin Havlat’s power-play goal 1:11 into the third. Gaborik hit the empty net with 1:35 remaining ( 700K ).
Nikolai Khabibulin made only 11 saves for the Hawks, and 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.
The Blackhawks played without six injured regulars: defenseman 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 defenseman Brent Seabrook said. ''We made some pretty big mistakes and gave them some pretty good looks.''
Blue Jackets 6, Blues 4 | Video
Nikolai Zherdev let his play, rather than his words, speak for him. The 23-year-old Russian forward broke a 3-3 tie by scoring a highlight-reel goal with 5:57 remaining and added a second goal as the Blue Jackets avenged a loss to the Blues three nights earlier.
Zherdev put the Blue Jackets ahead to stay when he raced into the offensive zone and passed the puck to himself backward between his legs before wristing a shot from the high slot that got by goaltender Hannu Toivonen ( 700K ). After Dan Fritsche made it 5-3 on a shot from the left dot just over a minute later ( 700K ), Zherdev took a long pass from David Vyborny and scored on a backhander at 18:03 for his 17th of the season (). He had just 10 goals in 71 games a year ago.
Zherdev was dressed and gone before anyone could speak with him after the game, leaving his teammates to do the talking.
''That's what he does — he changes games around,'' said Jason Chimera, who added his first goal in 26 games. ''He's one of those superstars in this league right now. It's one of those things, when he gets the puck the other team kind of backs off.''
Zherdev didn't practice on Wednesday or Thursday after taking a hard hit from David Backes in St. Louis’ 6-1 victory over the Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.
''I don't know if any of the players knew if he was going (to play) or not until this morning,'' Fritsche said. ''He looked good. I totally forgot he was hurt until he told me about it. He was at his best tonight, that's for sure.''
The victory was sweet revenge for the Blue Jackets.
''It was a huge win. Everybody knows what happened out there (on Tuesday night),'' said Pascal Leclaire, who had 26 saves for the Blue Jackets. ''It was embarrassing. We were pretty sour about it. We definitely came out the way we wanted to play. We were in their face all night.''
The Blues opened the scoring 7:54 into the game when Ryan Johnson’s pass hit Backes’ skate and went into the net ( 700K ). Rick Nash tied it at 12:08 with a wrist shot from the left circle ( 700K ), and Ron Hainsey’s slap shot past Toivonen at 17:21 put Columbus ahead ( 700K ).
Chimera ended his goal drought at 7:57 of the second period ( 700K ), but Brad Boyes cut the margin to 3-2 at 17:39 ( 700K ), and Andy McDonald got the Blues even 3:33 into the third ( 700K ). Jay McClement scored with 38 seconds left, but it was much too little and far too late ( 700K ).
''I give Columbus credit,'' Blues coach Andy Murray said. ''They worked extremely hard and they were focused on this hockey game. All I know is it was 3-3 in the third period and we didn't get it done.”
Coyotes 4, Canucks 3 | Video
Twenty Canucks skated off the ice at GM Place having lost for the first time at home since Nov. 1. Jeff Cowan put the defeat squarely on his shoulders.
With the game tied at 1-1 late in the second period, Cowan took exception to a hit by Ed Jovanovski and went back at the Phoenix defenseman, drawing a double minor. When Alex Burrows took a delay of game penalty 14 seconds later, the Canucks were down two men — and the Coyotes made them pay when Jovanovski beat backup goalie Curtis Sanford with a wrist shot at 19:47 ( 700K ) and Keith Yandle blew a slap shot from the left circle past Sanford 10 seconds later ( 700K ).
“It was a stupid play on my part,” said Cowan, who was benched for the third period by coach Alain Vigneault. “I take full responsibility. It cost us the game, basically. He got me pretty good — it was a clean hit — and I reacted the wrong way.”
Jovanovski, who left Vancouver to sign with Phoenix in 2005, said he had no inclination to square off with Cowan.
“I’m not going to go out and fight him and break my hand,” Jovanovski said. “They’ve told me not to go out and get into the penalty box.”
Ryan Kesler made it 3-2 with a shorthanded goal 28 seconds into the third period ( 700K ), but Niko Kapanen made it 4-2 just over three minutes later ( 700K ), enabling the Coyotes to withstand a late rally that included Taylor Pyatt’s second goal of the game with 8:30 remaining and end Vancouver’s 12-0-2 streak at home ( 700K ).
For the first time since coming to Vancouver last season, Roberto Luongo spent a home game watching someone else play goal. Curtis Sanford faced 38 shots, including 18 in the second period, and Vigneault absolved him of blame for the loss.
“He gave us a chance to get back into the game,” Vigneault said. “This was not our type of game.”
The Coyotes rebounded with a solid effort after a 5-2 loss in Edmonton on Thursday.
“Good teams find a way to bounce back,” Jovanovski said. “We played well and capitalized on our opportunities on the power play.”
Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report.