By MATT CARLSON | Associated Press
CHICAGO (AP) — Cam Talbot made 30 saves for his first shutout of the season and the Minnesota Wild beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-0 on Wednesday night to extended their points streak to 10 games.
Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Fiala and Frederick Gaudreau each had a goal and an assist for surging Minnesota. The Wild head into the NHL’s All-Star break on a 9-0-1 roll.
The 34-year-old Talbot, named an All-Star for the first time, had his 25th career shutout.
“It's been a lot of fun this year playing behind this group and being part of this group,” said Talbot, who improved to 18-8-1 and lowered his goals-against average to 2.81. "Shutouts are team stat, but wins are what's most important.
“It's certainly nice to throw one of those (shutouts) in every once in a while.”
Fiala extended his career-high points streak to 12 games, matching Mikael Granlund’s Wild record set in 2017.
Fiala is enjoying his roll, along with the Wild's.
“It's very fun,” the Swiss forward said. ‘We’re winning, it feels like all the time, you know. We're confident we're going to win every game no matter who we play.
“It's still early to say because we've got 40 games to go, but I have big confidence in this group that we can go all the way, for sure.”
Kirill Kaprizov scored his team-leading 19th goal to stretch his career-best points streak to eight games. Nico Sturm also connected to help Minnesota improve to 3-0-0 against fading Chicago.
Zuccarello has three goals in his last four games and points in 11 of his last 12, with six goals and 14 assists in the span. Fiala has nine goals and seven assists in his streak.
The Blackhawks lost their third straight and are 1-5-2 in their last eight. Marc-Andre Fleury allowed five goals on 30 shots before being relieved by Collin Delia late in the third.
Chicago played again without captain Jonathan Toews. He missed his third straight game because of a concussion.
Repeated turnovers and coverage mistakes doomed the Blackhawks in this one, interim coach Derek King said.
“That's what we've got to figure out how to stop,” King said. “It's the second mistake, the snowball effect, I guess you might want to call it. And tonight, the snowball effect was in effect and was hurting us.”
Kaprizov made it 3-0 with 5:52 left in the second, scoring from the slot after taking Zuccarello’s short lateral feed.
Chicago’s Ryan Carpenter and Philipp Kurashev narrowly missed on close-in chances in the final moments of the second period. Minnesota’s Brandon Duhaime swept a loose puck from the goal line to help preserve the shutout.
Fiala and Sturm scored goals 1:24 apart midway through the third as the Wild pulled away.
OWNER SOURS TOWN HALL
At a pregame event for fans, Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz angrily rejected any conversation connected to the franchise’s response to former prospect Kyle Beach’s claim that he was sexually assaulted by then-video coach Brad Aldrich coach in 2010.
The town hall was supposed help the franchise improve its reputation. But it was derailed by Wirtz’s response when a reporter tried to ask Danny Wirtz, Rocky’s son and the team’s CEO, about what the organization was doing to address the power dynamic between players and coaches in light of Beach’s accusations.
“I’m going to answer the question, not Danny,” Rocky Wirtz said. “The people that were involved are no longer here. We’re not looking back at 2010, we’re looking forward. And we’re not going to talk about 2010.”
Wirtz later issued an apology.
NOTES: Minnesota D Matt Dumba missed the game with an upper-body injury and is out day-to-day. F Marcus Foligno (upper body) sat out his second. … Wild D John Merrill and D Nico Sturm returned from COVID-19 protocol. … F Matt Boldy and F Connor Dewar played after being recalled from Minnesota’s taxi squad. … Chicago D Wyatt Kalynuk skated while D Caleb Jones was a healthy scratch.
Wild: At Winnipeg on Tuesday night.
Blackhawks: At Edmonton on Wednesday, Feb. 9.
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