Hawks blank Wild 1-0
An errant puck clanked off Joel Quenneville's head and the Blackhawks coach merely laughed. When you have clinched a postseason berth and stand atop the NHL standings, just about everything draws a smile and Quenneville proved it after the puck hit him during the second period of the Hawks' 1-0 victory over the Wild on Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center. The victory was the third consecutive for the Hawks and extended their points streak to six games. Goaltender Ray Emery made 20 saves to record his third shutout of the season — all in his last five starts — and the 14th of his career. "It seemed liked a playoff game," Hawks winger Marian Hossa said. "There was tight-checking out there. We didn't have much room. We had some great chances at the beginning but their goalie (Niklas Backstrom) played extremely well just like Ray. He was unbelievable for us. They made one mistake and we got the win." That mistake was defenseman Clayton Stoner's attempted pass out of the Wild zone that Hossa intercepted and then fired a laser beam from the slot past Backstrom for the only goal of the game. The Hawks improved to 30-5-4 as they zero in on clinching the Central Division and Western Conference titles and stride toward capturing the Presidents' Trophy — given to the team with the most points in the NHL — with a league-high 64 points with nine games to play. The defense was stifling as it clogged the shooting lanes and forced mostly long shots that Emery was able to see and stop. "We played really well defensively," said Emery, who improved to 15-1-0. "We controlled the play for a lot of the night. They threw a lot of pucks at the net but we put ourselves in a good position defensively. It was a tight-checking game and both teams were going pretty hard."
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