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Blackhawks 5, Wild 3

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks used four first-period goals, two by third-line winger Bryan Bickell, to beat the Minnesota Wild 5-3 on Tuesday night, extending their NHL-record season-starting point streak to the first 23 games of the 2013 campaign.

The Hawks, who have collected a point in 29 straight games going back to last season, also set a team record with their 10th straight victory, surpassing a four-season-old record.

Chicago (20-0-3) is six games from tying Philadelphia's NHL record 35-game point streak, set in the middle of the 1979-80 season. Montreal's 1977-78 Stanley Cup champion team went 28 games without a loss.

Bickell's goals were the second and third of a four-goal outburst, achieved on six shots, in a span of 5 minutes, 43 seconds. All of them came at even strength, and all but chased Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom from the net. Backstrom had been 6-1-1 in his previous eight games, allowing no more than two goals in any of those contests.

Brandon Saad's backhand rebound score at 13:02 of the first tied the game 1-1, erasing the Minnesota lead earned by Devin Setoguchi about five minutes earlier.

Bickell's first goal came 44 seconds later, a rebound of Viktor Stalberg's shot that deflected off Backstrom's left shoulder and landed at Bickell's feet in the right crease.

His second goal also came from the slot. This time, he roofed a wrist shot in traffic to beat Backstrom cleanly with 2:48 left in the period.

It became 4-1 when Marian Hossa, streaking through the right slot, hammered in a pass from Saad with 75 seconds left in the first period.

That goal stood up as the winner after the Wild's Ryan Suter and Kyle Brodziak scored third-period goals to force the Hawks, who have made a habit of it, to return to airtight defense in the final minutes, much as they held Minnesota to four second-period shots. The Hawks' Patrick Kane added an insurance goal with 8:27 left in the third.

Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford made 20 saves, including a difficult one on Mike Rupp's slot backhand with 6:20 remaining.

Minnesota (11-9-2), one of the three teams to beat Chicago this season, is 7-4-1 in its last 12 games and has lost two of its last three. All of Chicago's losses have been in shootouts.

NOTES: The Hawks' previous winning streak of nine straight games was set from Dec. 7 to 28, 2008. ... Center Dave Bolland was back in the Chicago lineup after missing five games with what the team called an upper-body injury. Bolland, injured Feb. 22 against San Jose, said at the morning skate that he didn't have a concussion, which leaves the rest of the upper body as the injury location. He's missed games with back trouble in the past. ... Minnesota's Josh Harding (illness) and Cal Clutterbuck (lower body) missed their 10th and sixth games, respectively. Zenon Konopka and Nate Prosser were healthy scratches for the Wild. Jamal Mayers, Michael Frolik and Sheldon Brookbank were healthy Chicago scratches. ... With Harding, diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last fall and unavailable, Darcy Kuemper replaced Niklas Backstrom to start the second period. ... Each Blackhawk wore a Marian Hossa jersey in the warmup, all of them to be autographed by Hossa and auctioned for charity. Hossa, who played in his 1,000th NHL game at Detroit on Sunday, was also honored in a pre-game ceremony. He was presented with a silver-plated stick and a painting of his hoisting the Stanley Cup with the Hawks in 2010. ... Despite a snowstorm that dropped about eight inches of snow on the city, most of the announced crowd of 21,836 was on hand for the opening faceoff.
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