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Scandella's late goal leads Wild past Blackhawks

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild defenseman Marco Scandella picked a good time to score his first goal of the season.

Scandella's wrist shot from the point went through traffic and beat Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford with 1:48 remaining in regulation, lifting the Wild to a 4-3 victory Thursday night. The win was Minnesota's second in three games against the defending Stanley Cup Champions this season and marked the Wild's first regulation victory at home over the Blackhawks since Oct. 27, 2008.

"We were relentless tonight," Scandella said after the Wild rallied in the third period after blowing a 2-0 lead. "It was a great test for us, especially going down [in the third period], and against a team like Chicago, to come back, it's a great feeling."

Both teams coughed up third-period leads in an exciting - and sometimes sloppy - sprint to the finish.

After Jeremy Morin's goal with 16.6 seconds remaining in the second period pulled Chicago within 2-1, the Blackhawks tied the game 43 seconds into the third period when Brandon Saad picked Ryan Suter's pocket at the Wild blue line and beat Josh Harding with a snap shot just under the crossbar. Saad's unassisted goal was his eighth of the season.

The Hawks (20-6-4) went ahead for the first time almost six minutes later. With Nino Niederreiter off for holding, Marian Hossa cruised down the left wall and beat Harding just inside the far post for his 12th of the season.

But the Wild (17-8-5) were able to capitalize on a late power play of their own when defenseman Jonas Brodin's shot deflected off Chicago defenseman Johnny Oduya and past Crawford with 5:39 to play in regulation, setting up Scandella's late heroics.

Brodin leads the Wild defensemen with five goals.

"A couple penalty kills off us and that's the differential tonight," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "It's a game we had right where we wanted it. We needed a kill and we didn't get it done."

Wild coach Mike Yeo said his team got what it deserved despite having to work a little harder to get the victory that for most of the night appeared inevitable.

"That was probably 57 of the best minutes we've played all year," Yeo said. "You're not going to play perfect against that team. They have a boatload of skill and they find ways to make plays. But I thought we did a really good job of limiting them, for the most part."

The Wild went ahead 4:23 into the game when Matt Cooke took a nice feed from Torrey Mitchell and snapped a shot over Crawford's glove for his fifth goal of the season and second in three games. The goal snapped a six-game streak in which the Wild had been held scoreless in the opening 20 minutes of play.

Minnesota pushed its lead to 2-0 at 16:59 of the second with a power-play goal that started on a shot from the point by Jason Pominville. The puck hit Dany Heatley in front and caromed right to Zach Parise at the right post; he slammed his 12th of the season past Crawford.

But Morin's goal late in the period changed the complexion of the game and gave Chicago life.

"That goal at the end of the second period sure gave them some life and they came out [in the third] and capitalized right off the hop," Yeo said. "There was a few minutes where we weren't on the top of our game or at our very best, but other than that, I thought we were very solid tonight."

The Wild improved to 13-0-3 when leading after 40 minutes this season. Josh Harding made 16 saves for his 15th victory of the season. Crawford, the NHL leader with 17 victories, stopped 19 shots.

Chicago has lost back-to-back games for the first time since Oct. 24-26. Their lead over third-place Minnesota in the Central Division standings is five points. The Blackhawks are three points ahead of the second-place St. Louis Blues, but the Blues have three games in hand. Chicago heads home for the second half of back-to-back games Friday against the Anaheim Ducks at United Center.

Minnesota, winners of two straight, will also play the second of back-to-back games Friday at the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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