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game recap

Wild defeat Blackhawks in Stadium Series game

Minnesota has quick start, wins fourth straight

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

Niederreiter finishes tic-tac-toe

CHI@MIN: Niederreiter completes Wild's pretty passing

2/21/16: Jason Pominville starts a pretty tic-tac-toe passing setup for the Wild, as Nino Niederreiter lights the lamp for a three-goal lead

  • 00:47 •

MINNEAPOLIS -- It was a moment the State of Hockey had waited for ever since Minnesota re-entered the League 15 seasons ago.

The first professional hockey game held outdoors in the state on Sunday was everything Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold had envisioned when he petitioned for the type of outdoor event that exemplifies what is near and dear to every Minnesotan.

In the end, the Wild capped it off with a 6-1 win against the rival Chicago Blackhawks in the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series Game before 50,426 at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota.

It became evident that by the time the State of Hockey anthem was played and those in attendance were serenading their team with chants of 'Let's Go Wild!', Minnesota had long drained whatever life remained in the Blackhawks.

Perhaps Brooks Suter, the 5-year-old son of Wild defenseman Ryan Suter, summed it up best when asked by a reporter his favorite part of the day while sitting on dad's lap during the postgame press conference.

Video: CHI@MIN: Dumba nets juicy rebound for an early lead

"The win," he said.

Minnesota's third line of Erik Haula centering left wing Nino Niederreiter and right wing Jason Pominville combined for three goals and eight points. Pominville had a goal and two assists.

"Our line has been playing with confidence," Pominville said. "I think at one point [in the season] I was just thinking too much and not going out there and playing. And I just said go out there and play and have fun and that's what we've been doing."

Along with Pominville, Haula also had a goal and two assists to equal the record for points in a regular-season outdoor NHL game achieved by seven other players. Matt Dumba, Thomas Vanek and Ryan Carter also scored for the Wild (27-22-10), who extended their franchise-best streak of scoring five goals in a game to four straight games.

Goaltender Devan Dubnyk, who made 31 saves for the Wild, had his shutout end with 7:55 left in the third when Patrick Kane scored along the goal line below the right circle. The goal by Kane was his 35th of the season for the Blackhawks (38-19-5).

Video: CHI@MIN: Vanek's nice deflection beats Crawford

"That's probably the most excited I got just walking to a rink for a game with the band playing," Dubnyk said. "You try not to look around too much, because if you look a little too high you get a little startled at how many people are actually in there. I waited until the end to have a good look around."

Goaltender Corey Crawford, pulled to begin the third after allowing four goals on 23 shots through two periods, was replaced by Scott Darling (eight saves on nine shots).

"That wasn't anywhere near the way we can play," Crawford said. "Against a dangerous team that has been playing really well lately we just never had anything throughout the whole game. Right from the start that just wasn't the way we usually play.

"That's something that I think we need to learn a lesson from and realize that there aren't going to be any easy games going forward. If we don't bring everything we have it's going to end up like this."

It was the third win this season for the Wild against the Blackhawks, and fourth straight win for John Torchetti since replacing Mike Yeo as interim coach on Feb. 13. Minnesota has won the past five regular-season games against the Blackhawks.

Video: CHI@MIN: Pominville lasers the puck for a 4-0 lead

Torchetti became the first coach in NHL history to make his home debut in an outdoor game and served as an assistant coach for the Blackhawks and coach Joel Quenneville from 2007 to 2010.

"It's up to [the players], it's not me," Torchetti said. "It's what you do when you don't have the puck; that's the biggest key for me. That's what I feel for our guys in the locker room. I want to make sure they keep pushing that and having that attitude and then we want to keep attacking that net whatever chance we get."

Niederreiter, who had a goal and an assist in his first professional outdoor game, said it's important to take pride in getting gritty goals.

"You're not always going to get rewarded if you do that job, but at the end of the day it's an important job and you have to take pride in doing it," he said. "That's something we keep working on. Getting in front of the net and playing dirtier and grittier."

Haula, who spent three seasons at the University of Minnesota, was awarded his goal after being taken down on a breakaway with the Blackhawks goalie pulled for an extra attacker with 6:11 remaining.

Video: CHI@MIN: Kane puts the Blackhawks on the board

"What a feeling," Haula said. "First to get the win and the whole team to play that well and also having 50,000 people being back where it kind of all started [for me in Minnesota]. It was incredible."

The Wild ended an eight-game losing streak at home (1-5-3); Minnesota hasn't won at Xcel Energy Center since Dec. 28.

Dumba scored his fourth goal in nine games off a rebound in the crease at 3:25 to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead. Carter broke in on Crawford and had two attempts stopped before Dumba scored on the rebound.

The 21-year-old defenseman delivered a hard, clean hit on Andrew Desjardins on his next shift that ignited a skirmish in front of the Blackhawks bench. Chicago forward Phillip Danault skated over and bumped into Dumba and the two toppled to the ice.

"The whole day was an adrenaline shot for me; it was right when I woke up in the morning," Dumba said. "I was so excited to play, get on that ice and being able to direct my focus and put it toward having a solid game. When I scored, I did black out for a moment. It was awesome."

Video: CHI@MIN: Haula awarded goal after penalty

Danault was whistled for an extra two minutes for interference and Vanek made the Blackhawks pay on a deflection in front at 7:10 for a 2-0 lead.

"We have put ourselves behind the eight ball many times this season and we need wins so for us any win is a big win and doesn't matter if it's against Chicago or any other team," Vanek said. "I played in two previous outdoor games but I thought this one was cool since the fans were a little closer. You could hear the crowd a little more."

Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith had an apparent goal off a shot from the left circle waved off when captain Jonathan Toews was called for goaltender interference at 10:15. Toews was looking to create a scoring opportunity with the puck at the right post but caught Dubnyk with his arm before going behind the cage. Dubnyk fell backwards when the puck slid to Keith in the circle.  

Pominville scored at 10:26 of the second period to give Minnesota a 4-0 lead. Carter made it 5-0 early in the third period before Kane got Chicago on the board. Haula's empty-net goal concluded the scoring.

Wild left wing Jason Zucker sustained an upper-body injury 15:14 into the second after a hit by Michal Rozsival at the Minnesota blue line. He left the game and did not return. Rozsival was given a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct.

Video: Wild score six to down Blackhawks in Stadium Series

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