By Jay Cohen
AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO (AP) — Niklas Backstrom made 33 saves in his first win of the season and the Minnesota Wild defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 5-3 on Saturday night in a rematch of their first-round playoff series.
Jason Pominville had two goals in his 600th career game as Minnesota earned its third consecutive win.
Zach Parise, Kyle Brodziak and Justin Fontaine also scored for the Wild, and Ryan Suter and Mikael Granlund had two assists apiece.
Bryan Bickell scored for the fourth consecutive game for the Blackhawks, who had recorded at least one point in each of their past seven games. Patrick Kane added his team-best sixth goal in the third period.
Backstrom was terrific in his first start since he strained his right knee during a 3-2 loss at Nashville on Oct. 8. He came off the bench when Josh Harding suffered a lower-body injury Thursday night and stopped all seven shots that he faced during the third period of a 3-1 home win against Carolina.
The 35-year-old Backstrom was particularly hard on Patrick Sharp, turning him away on one strong rush in the first, and making another nice stop on the forward during a Blackhawks power play in the second. He also made a couple of saves on Marian Hossa.
It was quite a turnaround from the playoffs last season, when Backstrom was scratched from Game 1 in Chicago after he hurt his leg reaching for a puck during warm-ups. That was it for Backstrom for the series, and Chicago eliminated Minnesota in five games on the way to its second Stanley Cup title in four seasons.
Parise had a power-play rebound goal in the first and Brodziak made it 2-0 when he tipped Marco Scandella’s long shot past Corey Crawford just 63 seconds into the second period.
The Blackhawks looked as if they had their first score when Jeremy Morin’s shot went off Backstrom’s left shoulder, popped into the air and trickled over the line following a mad scramble in front of the net. But the goal was waived off when a replay review showed Andrew Shaw made contact with the puck with his stick while it was over the crossbar.
Bickell’s wrist shot through Backstrom’s legs cut it to 2-1 at 13:46, but Granlund set up Pominville with 2:18 to go in the period. Granlund then turned Nick Leddy’s turnover into another Pominville goal at 9:18 of the third, giving Minnesota a 4-1 lead.
Marcus Kruger scored with 30 seconds left, but that was the final score in the Blackhawks’ second straight loss. Crawford finished with 20 saves.
NOTES: The Blackhawks and Wild play again in Minnesota on Monday night. ... Blackhawks C Michal Handzus sat out with an upper-body injury. The 36-year-old forward has a goal and two assists in nine games this season. ... Handzus, F Ben Smith and D Sheldon Brookbank were scratched for Chicago. ... In addition to Harding, Ds Keith Ballard and Jonas Brodin were scratched for the Wild.