By MIKE COOK | Associated Press
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Ryan Hartman scored with 3:13 left in the game, and the Minnesota Wild beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1 on Saturday to finish off a four-game season sweep of its Central Division rival.
Frederick Gaudreau and Jordan Greenway also scored for Minnesota. Cam Talbot made 21 saves to win his fifth straight, improving to 9-4-0 in his last 13 starts.
“Once you get a little bit of confidence going, you just continue to build off that,” Talbot said.
Seth Jones scored his first goal in 36 games for the Blackhawks, and Kevin Lankinen made 31 saves.
On the game-winner, Kirill Kaprizov outmuscled a Chicago defenseman for the puck in the right corner and fed Mats Zuccarello near the slot. His touch pass found Hartman alone at the left side for a redirect that Lankinen had no chance on.
“I’ve been playing with Zuccy for a while now and you know that he’s passing that puck 101% of the time. Obviously, he’s a great passer and made a great play,” Hartman said.
From behind his own goal line, Greenway scored into an empty net in the waning seconds.
Interim Chicago coach Derek King thought his team mostly played well, except the winning goal.
“Just like a little brain lapse. We double up and we didn’t cover the front. Against good hockey teams like that, they’re going to put it in the back of your net,” he said.
Improving to 4-1-1 in its last six, Minnesota began the day tied with Nashville for third place in the Central Division, three points back of second-place St. Louis.
“We played as good a game defensively as we had in a while, and that’s what it takes this time of year,” Talbot said. “There’s no blowouts, really, this time of year. It's going to be those one-, two-game goals with an empty-netter kind of thing. You have to be comfortable with those situations, and the last couple of games we’ve shown that we can play those.”
Minnesota beat Boston 4-2 on Wednesday.
Gaudreau converted a feed from Kevin Fiala for a 1-0 lead late in the opening frame. With the helper, Fiala established a career-high with 55 points.
Nursing a one-goal lead, Talbot stopped Boris Katchouk on a breakaway with 11:32 left. His other biggest saves came in the second period: robbing Kirby Dach near the right post on a feed from Patrick Kane and a sprawled arm save on Dominik Kubalik off a Dach feed.
“There’s some of the games that you know when they do go in, it can snowball, but Cam stood on his head and make big saves when he needed to,” Hartman said.
Jones tied the game for Chicago midway through the third period with a wrist shot from the left dot that beat Talbot high on the glove side.
Lankinen started in goal instead of Marc-Andre Fleury, who could be moved to a contender by Monday’s trade deadline. Blackhawks General Manager Kyle Davidson said Friday the team is in rebuilding mode — the same day Chicago traded Brandon Hagel, the team’s second-leading goal scorer with 21.
“A lot of speculation going around but that’s not really my job here. My job is to stay focused and help the team when right now,” said Lankinen, adding he’d “absolutely” be ready to play again Sunday.
Minnesota acquired LW Nicholas Deslauriers from Anaheim for a 2023 third-round draft pick. … Minnesota is 21-1-1 when leading after one period and 22-0-2 leading after two. … Blackhawks D Alex Vlasic made his NHL debut, four days after signing a three-year entry-level contract. ... Katchouk and RW Taylor Raddysh also played in their first Chicago game. Each was acquired from Tampa Bay on Friday as part of the Hagel trade. … The Blackhawks are 0-8-2 in the first game of back-to-back games.
Blackhawks: At home on Sunday against Winnipeg.
Wild: Host Vegas on Monday.
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