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Kane extends point streak; Blackhawks edged by Wild

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane extended his point streak to 20 games, but the Minnesota Wild didn't let it keep them from ending a three-game losing streak at United Center on Tuesday.

Ryan Suter scored with 7:56 remaining and the Wild defeated the Blackhawks 2-1 for their second victory against Chicago this season.

Jason Pominville scored and Devan Dubnyk made 30 saves for Minnesota (12-7-4), which controlled the action for long stretches.

"We hadn't played well and hadn't played consistent in a long time, and now we finally put a game together," said Suter, who cleaned up a rebound of two shot attempts by center Mikael Granlund (two assists). "It's something that we can build on. We hadn't really been playing that consistent and now we finally got that."

The Wild didn't score on their four power plays, but used the man-advantage time to swing momentum back their way in the second after Kane scored on a Blackhawks power play at 5:21 of the second to tie it 1-1 and extend his streak.

Three power plays later, the Wild were back to playing the way they started the game. It carried over into the third, when they played strong defensively in front of Dubnyk.

"It's huge just to get back in the win column and play a really solid game," Dubnyk said. "It's easy to start to look at the end result of the game when you've lost a few in the last little while. I think we did a good job tonight of not doing that and just keeping it as small as we could. Even though they get the one on the power play, we just stuck to our game and played a solid road game. That's what we need and we've got to continue that."

Corey Crawford made 34 saves for the Blackhawks (13-9-3), who went 1-for-3 on the power play.

Kane's 15th goal and NHL-leading eighth on a power play, pulled him within a game of Bobby Hull for the Blackhawks' all-time record of 21 straight games with a point. Kane's streak is the longest by an American-born player, but how it got past Dubnyk was a more popular topic afterward.

Kane scored it after defenseman Duncan Keith used a slick stick lift to steal a puck in the offensive zone and send him a pass in the right circle. Unchecked, Kane carried the puck toward the net. He looked for a spot to shoot, took a shot and watched the puck trickle through Dubnyk's pads to tie the game 1-1.

"It was a nice play by [Keith] to pick the guy's stick there and [he] made a good pass to me," Kane said. "I was trying to go high, actually. I kind of flubbed the shot. I was lucky it went in."

Dubnyk and Kane shared a smile about it later in the game.

"All that time and space and he missed," Dubnyk said. "I was laughing with him in the third. The guy's sniped so many posts, and that happens. We just kind of looked at each other [in the third]. I guess I can be part of his point streak now, or for the second time. I think I was part of the beginning of it too."

Indeed he did; Kane had a secondary assist on a power-play goal by defenseman Brent Seabrook in the Wild's 5-4 win against the Blackhawks at Xcel Energy Center on Oct. 30, which extended the streak to six games at that point.

This one was one of the few bright spots for Chicago, which continues to struggle with puck possession. The Blackhawks went 3-1-2 during their annual "Circus Trip" that concluded this past weekend, but their play was erratic on the road.

"We haven't had as much [offensive-zone time] as we'd like," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "[We haven't had] that strength in the puck area, [protected] the puck, [been] hard going to the net, first to pucks, [or] relentless with our sticks in the puck area [or] battle area. We try to control the game in that area, making them defend, and [there hasn't] been enough of that."

It led to Minnesota's goals, starting with Pominville's to open the scoring at 4:09 of the first. After not scoring for 21 games to start the season, he's scored in back-to-back games and put this one in by using extra effort.

After sending a pass to Granlund, Pominville got the puck back behind the net by following a shot that slid wide of the left post. He wrapped it around the post before Crawford could slide over to save it.

"I think the last couple of games have been two of his better games in a long time," Wild coach Mike Yeo said of Pominville. "I'm happy that he got rewarded, but he's playing the game very well right now. The fact that he scored is great, but it's far more important that he was on the ice at the end of the game when they pulled the goalie. When he's on top of his game, he's one of our solid defenders. He's a guy who's in good position and because of that he creates a lot of offense from that."

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