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Wild overcome 4-goal deficit, beat Hawks 6-5 in SO

by John Kreiser

The Minnesota Wild didn't need long to turn the boos to cheers.

The Wild heard it from the sellout crowd of 19,310 at the XcelEnergyCenter as they left the ice after 40 minutes trailing the Chicago Blackhawks 5-1. But Kim Johnsson, Mikko Koivu, Marek Zidlicky and Guillaume Latendresse scored in the final 14 minutes of regulation, and Owen Nolan's goal in the eighth round of the shootout gave the Wild a 6-5 victory -- the biggest comeback win in franchise history.

"The first 40 minutes we watched them skate and watched them play," Wild coach Todd Richards said. "We had a couple opportunities. But the last 20 minutes was great. The crowd and the atmosphere were unbelievable."

The Wild got goals by Johnsson, Koivu and Zidlicky in a 2:05 span early in the third to pull within a goal, igniting the crowd. Latendresse tied it with 1:33 to play, and Nolan's goal ended Chicago's five-game winning streak.

The Hawks had allowed a League-low 27 third-period goals before Saturday's meltdown.

"We had to find a way to kill off the momentum and we didn't do that," captain Jonathan Toews said. "So they just kept going off it right into the shootout, and that's what happens. It's unfortunate, but we'll learn from it."

Koivu scored in the first round of the shootout, but Patrick Kane tied it by beating Josh Harding in the second round. After Harding and Cristobal Huet each stopped the next five shooters they faced, Nolan snapped a shot into the net and Harding stopped Chicago's John Madden for the win.

The game was tied 1-1 midway through the first period when the Hawks took control.

Toews and Kris Versteeg scored to put Chicago up 3-1 after one period, and the Blackhawks got a power play goal by troy Brouwer and a shorthanded goal by Marian Hossa to open a seemingly-safe lead after 40 minutes.

The Hawks' onslaught sent starting goaltender Niklas Backstrom to the bench in favor or Harding to start the third period.

"Sometimes it's a lot easier coming off the bench," Harding said. "When you're down by that much, there's not really a lot of pressure. You just go out there and have fun."

The crowd got revved up when Johnsson scored at 6:44 and Koivu connected just 45 seconds later. Zidlicky made it a one-goal game when his power-play point shot beat Huet at 8:49

"When we scored a goal, it changed the momentum," said Latendresse, who had the Wild's first-period goal and now has nine since coming to Minnesota in a trade from Montreal on Nov. 23. "Our legs came back, everything came back and things went well at the end."

The Hawks left the Twin Cities with a point, giving them an NHL-high 67. But the one that got away left Hawks coach Joel Quenneville displeased.

"Certainly we did a lot of good things up to that point," Quenneville said. "It wasn't like we gave them a ton of chances in the third. It's a tough loss. We had four chances in the shootout to end it. We left a big point on the table, that we can't let go. But it's a good lesson."

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