October 13, 2017 / 4:49 AM / a year ago

Stewart scores twice as Wild bury Blackhawks

Stewart scores twice as Wild bury Blackhawks

CHICAGO — Minnesota Wild right winger Chris Stewart figured someone needed to step forward with several of his team’s top scorers sidelined by injuries.

That someone happened to be him.

Stewart scored two goals in the third period, and the Wild pulled away for a 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.

Minnesota (1-1-1) scored four goals in the final 9:28 to earn its first victory of the season.

“That’s why we’re probably one of the deeper teams in the league,” said Stewart, a third-line bruiser who leads the team with four goals. “When guys go down, you definitely want to step up for your teammates. It was me tonight. Who knows? It could be someone else next game.”

Eric Staal, Jason Zucker and Mikko Koivu also notched goals for Minnesota.

Ryan Hartman and Jonathan Toews scored for the Blackhawks. Chicago (3-1-1) lost in regulation for the first time this season.

“We had a good game tonight,” said Hartman, who leads the team with eight points (two goals, six assists). “We fought until the end there, but you never really want to lose. Even if it’s tied, you (want to) get that extra point and get to overtime so you don’t go home with a goose egg.”

The Wild played with only eight forwards down the stretch because of injuries to Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle and Marcus Foligno. Niederreiter appeared to hurt himself after tumbling feet-first into the boards. Coyle absorbed a shot in the back of his leg, and Foligno took a hard punch to the jaw during a fight with Blackhawks right winger John Hayden.

Minnesota already was without top forwards Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund because of injuries. Niederreiter and Coyle are not expected to be available for the Wild’s next game, Saturday at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“The boys battled,” Stewart said. “We worked hard for that one. We showed resiliency.”

Devan Dubnyk made 36 saves to notch his 100th win with the Wild. The Blackhawks’ Corey Crawford turned aside 29 shots.

Minnesota broke a scoreless tie in the final minute of the second period. Coyle slid a pass across the slot to Staal, who buried a one-timer for his second goal in as many games.

Chicago evened the score at 1 with 11:39 to play in the third period. Patrick Kane lifted a wrist shot from near the blue line with Tanner Kero setting a screen. Dubnyk stopped the shot but could not corral the rebound, which Hartman pushed across the goal line.

Stewart put the Wild back on top 2-1 with 9:28 to go. Zucker outraced Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook to a loose puck to set up a two-on-one break for the goal.

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville challenged the sequence because he believed Zucker was offside. After a video review, the call was confirmed, and the Blackhawks received a two-minute, delay-of-game penalty.

The NHL implemented the penalty for failed offside challenges before the start of the season.

“One play cost us the whole game,” Quenneville said. “I still don’t think it should have been a goal.”

Naturally, Wild players said they liked the NHL’s new rule concerning failed offside challenges.

“It adds a little bit more to the challenge,” Staal said. “It was a close call, and probably a worthy one by them. But when the puck hits off their defenseman and (deflects) back in the zone, that’s the call. We’ll take it.”

Less than two minutes after the controversial play, Zucker scored on a rebound to make it 3-1. Zucker banked a shot off Crawford’s skate from the side of the crease and into the net.

Stewart scored an empty-net goal with 4:04 remaining. Mikko Koivu added an empty-net goal to dash any lingering hopes for Chicago with 2:01 to go.

Toews finished the scoring in the final minute.

Minnesota outhit Chicago 32-25 and posted a 10-5 advantage in takeaways.

“They check well,” Quenneville said. “They won a lot more puck battles than we did.”

NOTES: Wild C Zach Parise missed his third game in a row because of an undisclosed injury. ... Blackhawks C Nick Schmaltz did not play for the third straight game because of an upper-body injury. Schmaltz is hopeful to return Saturday against the Nashville Predators. ... Wild RW Mikael Granlund sat out for the second game in a row because of a groin injury. ... Blackhawks D Connor Murphy returned to the lineup after sitting out the previous game as a healthy scratch. ... The Wild started the game with 11 forwards and seven defensemen. ... Blackhawks D Gustav Forsling wore a face shield after taking a puck to the mouth two nights earlier. Forsling told reporters he needed 15 stitches but lost no teeth.

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