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Wild aim to sweep Blackhawks in home-and-home finale
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Minnesota Wild take aim at their longest winning streak of the season on Monday, as they host the Chicago Blackhawks in the finale of a home-and-home series at Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild have won three in a row for the second time in 2013-14, taking recent contests against Nashville, Carolina and the Blackhawks. Minnesota recorded a 5-3 win Saturday in Chicago, sending the defending Stanley Cup champions to their second straight defeat.
Jason Pominville tallied two goals to help the Wild win for the fourth time in six meetings against Chicago, not counting last spring's opening-round playoff series, which the Blackhawks won in five games.
Including the playoffs, the Blackhawks have won six of the past nine meetings in St. Paul.
Zach Parise, Kyle Brodziak and Justin Fontaine each lit the lamp as well as on Saturday for the Wild, who matched their season-high of five goals. Mikael Granlund and Ryan Suter both contributed two assists to the victory.
Niklas Backstrom stopped 33-of-36 shots and earned his first win of the season in an excellent performance between the pipes.
"It starts with Backy, no question, he was on top of his game. We were on our toes, aggressive, with good sticks and reads," said Wild head coach Mike Yeo.
Backstrom expects to get the start again on Monday and is 6-8-1 with a 2.68 goals against average in 16 career games versus the Blackhawks.
Bryan Bickell, Patrick Kane and Marcus Kruger scored for Chicago in Saturday's defeat, while Corey Crawford allowed five goals on 25 shots.
"We kept ourselves in the game. I don't know how many goals they got off the faceoff, bingo-bango take a lead right from the start," said Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville.
Blackhawks forward Michal Handzus sat out Saturday's test with an upper-body injury and is expected to miss Monday's game as well. The two-way centerman has one goal and two assists in nine games this season.
Chicago hasn't lost three straight in the regular since Feb. 23-26, 2012. The 'Hawks did drop three in a row to Detroit in the postseason last spring before eliminating the Red Wings in seven games during the Western Conference semifinals.
10/28 11:12:04 ET