|- Photo Gallery|
|Post-Game Comments: Denis Savard|
|Opponents Video: J. Lemaire / B. Rolston|
Rookie Dave Bolland scored twice and Nikolai Khabibulin turned away 38 shots to register his 1st shutout of the season as the Blackhawks blanked Northwest Division leader Minnesota 3-0 at the United Center Wednesday.
It was the first win for the Hawks against the Wild since October 23, 2005.
Khabibulin earned his 37th career whitewash and only his 2nd as a Hawk. He had missed the last three games due to a mild knee sprain. It was his first shutout since last March against Los Angeles, also by a 3-0 score.
Khabibulin was helped by his teammates, who blocked 15 shots, plus the goalie's best friend -- the goal posts -- as three other Minnesota attempts just missed.
The victory kept the Hawks within six points of Vancouver for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Chicago took the lead early in the opening period when the NHL's rookie scoring leader, Patrick Kane, tallied his 14th of the season at 3:49. Kane picked up Robert Lang's rebound to stuff the puck past goalie Josh Harding.
In the 2nd period, Khabibuin came up with outstanding saves on Pavol Demitra twice and also thwarted Brent Burns twice early in the stanza on a Wild power play. On another Minnesota power play late in the period, Burns hit the post.
The 21 year-old Bolland, who scored his first NHL goal in mid-December against Florida and then missed 16 games because of a broken finger, got his second career marker with only 20 seconds left in the period to make it 2-0.
Bolland took a pass from Rene Bourque and wristed a 20-footer through the pads of Harding.
"He's got some skill and he's very smart," coach Denis Savard said of Bolland.
In the 3rd period, Bolland notched his 2nd of the game at 5:24 to make it 3-0 when he converted Duncan Keith's rebound just outside the goal crease.
Khabibulin kept busy in the period with a skate save on Mark Parrish; a close-in chance at the 8-minute mark by Aaron Voros; and a 15-foot blast by Mikko Koivu at the midway point.
Minnesota defenseman Keith Carney's long shot hit the post at the 14:00 mark and then on a Wild power play with a two-man advantage, Brian Rolston rattled a shot off the crossbar with less than four minutes remaining in regulation time.
Minnesota outshot Chicago 38-30 and was blanked on four power play attempts while the Hawks were 0-for-1.
Keith led all skaters with 26+ minutes while James Wisniewski blocked four Minnesota shots.
|Blackhawks center Dave Bolland (36) watches his shot get past Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding in the third period on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Sun-Times, Tom Cruze)
The Hawks are 5-1-1 in their last seven games and now head West for back-to-back matches Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles and Sunday in Anaheim before returning to the United Center next Wednesday to battle Phoenix (7:30 pm).
AP Notes: Blackhawks C/RW Jason Williams returned after missing 35 games following a groin injury and sports hernia surgery. ... Chicago LW Ben Eager missed his fifth game with a concussion and C Yanic Perreault missed his second with a cracked bone in his wrist. ... Minnesota LW Derek Boogaard sat out his 11th game with back injury.
Head coach Jacques Lemaire: "I thought that the guys played hard. I thought it was an even game and when they scored I could see they weren't feeling good about them. The match-up was good for them because their top line was playing as good as our top line, if not a little better. They were fine with that. On our side, I just felt that our top line would take over at a time and they never did."
Right wing Brian Rolston: "Khabibulin played well tonight. Our goaltender really played well, too, so it's just one of those nights it wasn't going our way offensively ... We just couldn't buy one tonight."