Minnesota fell to Chicago, 4-2, Thursday night in front of a sellout crowd of 19,060 at Xcel Energy Center. LW Jason Zucker and RW Jason Pominville scored for the Wild as G Niklas Backstrom made 16 saves. Next up, the Wild completes its three-game homestand hosting the Nashville Predators on Saturday at 1 p.m. CT on FOX Sports North and KFAN 100.3 FM.
The Wild outshot the Blackhawks, 44-20, including a 19-5 advantage in the second period. The 44 shots are the third-most in a single game and the Wild’s fifth game this season with 40-plus shots. Chicago’s 20 shots are the fewest recorded in a single game this year. Overall, the Wild has outshot its opponents in 30-of-39 games this season (76.9%).
The Wild killed two of the three Blackhawks power-play chances and has killed 71-of-85 (83.5%) of opponent power-play opportunities combined in the last 27 games dating back to Nov. 8. Over the last 24 games, the Wild’s power play has outscored its opponents’ man advantage 17-12. Since Dec. 5, Minnesota has scored 13 power-play goals in 15 games which rank T-4th in the NHL.
RW Jason Pominville tallied a power-play goal and an assist to register back-to-back multi-point games. It’s his 133rd career and eighth multi-point game this season. He has posted points in 15 of his last 20 games, totaling 20 points (5-15=20) in that span. Since Nov. 16, he has recorded 18 assists in 23 games which rank T-2nd in the NHL. He now leads the Wild in points (9-23=32) and in shots on goal (124).
LW Jason Zucker scored his team leading 15th goal of the year and his fourth goal in his last five games. He also skated a career-high 21:42 TOI. He has 20 points (15-5=20) in 35 games this year.
C Mikko Koivu registered the secondary assist on Zucker’s goal. He has five points (1-4=5) in his last five games and 21 points (6-15=21) in 39 games this season.
D Ryan Suter skated a game-high 33:22, topping 30 minutes in 12 games this season. He has led all skaters – Wild and opponent – in TOI in all but three of his 37 games this year (91.9%). He leads the NHL in TOI/game this season (29:28).
LW Thomas Vanek recorded the primary assist on Pominville’s goal. He has 11 points (5-6=11) in his last 14 games and ranks third on the Wild with 25 points (6-18=25).
LW Zach Parise missed his second consecutive game, seventh this season. His father, former North Star, J.P. Parise, passed away last night. The Wild honored the hockey legend with a pregame tribute video that can be found on wild.com.
C Jordan Schroeder registered a career-high seven shots in his first game after being recalled this morning.
RW Justin Fontaine skated in his 100th career game tonight, recording 14:15 TOI, three shots and one blocked shot.
G Niklas Backstrom made his first start since Dec. 17, stopping 16-of-19 shots. He is 2-1-3 with a 2.58 GAA and a .896 SV% in nine games (five starts) in Saint Paul this season.
LW Bryan Bickell scored twice for Chicago while LW Patrick Sharp, RW Patrick Kane also netted goals for Chicago. G Corey Crawford made 42 saves.