Oh, brother: Foligno’s goal lifts Wild past Blackhawks and his sibling in first game after break

CHICAGO – All but one of the teams the Wild will play the rest of the month are above them in the standings — and that might be a lifeline for their flickering playoff hopes.

After losing to the lowly Ducks before the All-Star break, the Wild resumed their season on Wednesday by barely outlasting the last-place Blackhawks 2-1 at United Center to snap a two-game losing streak.

At the 50-game mark, they're up to 49 points and are five back of a Western Conference wild-card berth.

"We found a way, but it wasn't the right recipe to give ourselves a chance to win every night," coach John Hynes said. "We found a way to win the game, but in my opinion the standard needs to be much higher."

Marcus Foligno scored at 10 minutes, 7 seconds of the third period, the decisive goal of the night because of the two saves that sandwiched it.

Earlier in the third, Wild goalie Filip Gustavsson stopped Chicago's Boris Katchouk on a breakaway, sticking out his left pad to deny Katchouk's backhander for one of his 20 saves.

"I start shifting to the right there," Gustavsson said, "and almost he tricked me, and then I just managed to pull out the leg there."

Then late in the period after setting up Foligno's tiebreaker, Vinni Lettieri took over for Gustavsson, blocking a Colin Blackwell shot with his skate in the crease while Gustavsson was out of position.

"That was really lucky," said Lettieri, who was back in the lineup after missing the previous 15 games with a broken foot.

Had those three plays not happened, the Wild could have dropped another game they should have won; that's how ho-hum their return from a 10-day hiatus was, a concern that Hynes acknowledged post-game.

"We got out-competed, out-executed, out-skated in the second period," he said. "You can't win hockey games like that. We had too many passengers, particularly in the second period. Third period, we were better."

BOXSCORE: Wild 2, Chicago 1

A swoon wasn't surprising. Not only was that how the Wild fell to Anaheim in their last game before the break, coughing up a lead after failing to extend it, but they used the same blueprint in their previous loss to Nashville.

Despite outshooting the Blackhawks 11-1 in the first period, the Wild had only one goal to show for the edge.

"[Assistant equipment manager Cliff Halstead] came in and asked me if I had Sudoku on my blocker or something like that to keep my busy," said Gustavsson, whose lone save in the first was a 100-footer from the neutral zone.

Jake Lucchini wired in his first with the Wild at 12:27, a goal that was signaled after the fact since play continued after Lucchini's shot until the horn interrupted the action; the puck rang off the post before clipping the camera in the back of the net.

"I thought it hit post, post and went out," Lucchini said. "The second post that I thought it [hit], it just didn't sound right. But I had no idea."

Lettieri also assisted on that goal; his line with Lucchini and Brandon Duhaime wasbthe Wild's most consistent.

"We kind of know what our strengths are," Lucchini said. "Just try to get the puck in deep. Try to forecheck hard, create turnovers and obviously limit out mistakes."

Instead of building on that momentum in the second, the Wild handed it over to Chicago.

The Blackhawks made up for their slow start at 13:44 when Nick Foligno buried a bouncing pass.

"If we do that against high-end teams, it might be a different second period," Marcus Foligno said. "It was just frustrating. We tend to do that lately, and that's kind of the problem with this season is just our let-ups.

"Enough's enough. We gotta hold each other accountable. We gotta get ticked off. Our third period was better, but we could have had a better lead going into the third."

After a detour to the penalty box early in the third, Foligno upstaged his older brother's goal by securing the game-winner against Chicago goalie Petr Mrazek (23 saves) when he redirected in a Lettieri feed.

This was the first regular-season game between the Foligno brothers in which both scored.

"I was really hoping just to tally one up with him," Marcus Foligno said. "I was getting heckled in the box, too, [by fans]. So, it's one of those things nine minutes in the box and his goal, I was like, 'Oh no.'"

Marcus was serving a fighting major when Nick capitalized in the second period, his second of three penalties; a goalie interference call against Foligno overturned a Wild goal early in the first period. Both power plays went 0-for-2.

The younger Foligno finished an assist shy of a Gordie Howe hat trick.

"That would have been nice, but that's OK," Marcus Foligno said. "I'll take the fight and the goal."

And the Wild, who have won 11 in a row against the Blackhawks, will take the two points even though how they achieved them wasn't conducive to picking up more and getting closer to a playoff spot.

"The good thing is we won the game, which is important," Hynes said. "But we've got to be much better collectively as a group moving forward here."