CHICAGO (AP) — Devan Dubnyk made 32 saves, and the Minnesota Wild clinched a playoff spot with a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night.
Mikael Granlund and Jason Zucker scored in the third period for the Wild, who were coming off a 2-0 home loss to Winnipeg on Monday night. It was Zucker’s first game since he broke his collarbone in the first period of a 5-3 victory over Vancouver on Feb. 9.
It was quite a turnaround from Minnesota’s last visit to Chicago in January, when it lost 4-1 in the fifth game of a six-game slide. That losing streak dropped the Wild to 18-19-5, but they traded for Dubnyk on Jan. 14 and the veteran goaltender helped them turn their season around.
Bryan Bickell scored his 14th goal and Corey Crawford had 28 stops for the Blackhawks (48-26-6), who have lost two in a row after a four-game winning streak.
Crawford and Dubnyk were locked in a scoreless duel before Granlund went to his backhand to collect his eighth goal at 9:30, stopping a 14-game drought. Zucker then scored on a 2-on-1 rush with Chris Stewart with 6:46 remaining.
With Crawford on the bench for a sixth attacker, Bickell scored on a shot from the left circle at 18:12. But Minnesota (45-27-8) held on from there.
The Blackhawks controlled the first part of the first period before the Wild started to pick up their play. Zach Parise sent a backhander off the post with 2 minutes left, and Zucker had a prime opportunity stopped by Crawford with about 50 seconds remaining.
Andrew Shaw had two of the best opportunities for Chicago in its home finale. His second-period backhand trickled behind Dubnyk, but defenseman Jared Spurgeon swept the puck away. Shaw had a look at an open net while the game was still scoreless in the third, but he swung and missed while he was being tied up by Wild defenseman Ryan Suter.
Zucker got the start in his first game since his injury against the Canucks. The forward was shaken up after tangling with Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook and going hard into the boards in the third, but quickly returned to the ice.
Zucker, who was expected to miss three months, played about 16 minutes.
The Blackhawks are hoping for a similar recovery for Patrick Kane, who had surgery on Feb. 25 to repair a broken left collarbone. The original timeline for Kane’s return was three months, but the dynamic winger is skating with the team again and appears to be ramping up his activity.
“He’s progressing real well,” coach Joel Quenneville said after the morning skate. “I know that every day it seems like he’s getting a little stronger and his skating’s always been fine and handling the puck extremely well, so it’s good signs every day.”
NOTES: Blackhawks F Brad Richards, D Kimmo Timonen and F Daniel Carcillo were scratched with upper-body injuries. Quenneville said Richards will miss the final three-games of the regular season, but should be ready for the playoffs. … Wild coach Mike Yeo said F Matt Cooke could return soon. The 36-year-old Cooke, who has four goals and four assists in 27 games, had surgery on Feb. 6 to address a sports hernia. … Blackhawks F Kyle Baun made his NHL debut. The 22-year-old Baun had 14 goals and 15 assists this season at Colgate, and then agreed to a two-year contract with Chicago last month. … Blackhawks rookie defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk had right wrist surgery, and the team said he should be fully recovered in eight weeks. The 23-year-old van Riemsdyk also had left knee surgery in November.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap
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