- Associated Press - Sunday, March 12, 2017

CHICAGO (AP) - The Chicago Blackhawks handed over a fast start to Corey Crawford, and the All-Star goaltender carried them home.

Crawford made a season-high 42 saves, and the Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild 4-2 on Sunday to pull within a point of the Central Division leaders.

Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin scored on Chicago’s first two shots, helping the Blackhawks (43-20-5) rebound from two straight losses. Trevor van Riemsdyk scored in the second period, and Marian Hossa added his 22nd in the third.

“If you ask anyone in this room, we probably feel we can play a lot better,” said Kane, who reached 30 goals for the second straight season and third time in his career. “Give the credit to (Crawford) tonight. He played an unbelievable game.”

Eric Staal scored his 22nd goal and Mikael Granlund got his 23rd for Minnesota, which has dropped three of four. Minnesota outshot Chicago 44-22 for a season high allowed by the Blackhawks.

The Wild had a lot of good chances, too. Crawford made a pad save on Erik Haula’s breakaway early in the third while Chicago was clinging to a 3-2 lead.

“We had a fortunate start, a couple of quick goals, and we slowed down as the game progressed,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Crow made some great saves, some big saves.”

It was a different story for Devan Dubnyk, trying for his career-high 37th win. He was relieved by Darcy Kuemper after allowing the pair of early goals.

Coach Bruce Boudreau didn’t like what he saw from his No. 1 goaltender.

“It was on him,” Boudreau said. “He didn’t look like he was following the puck well, for want of a better term.”

Dubnyk replaced Kuemper for the third period of the Wild’s previous game, a 7-4 win at Florida on Friday night.

“It’s not the way we wanted to start the game,” Dubnyk said. “If (Boudreau) didn’t think I was ready or he wants a spark whatever it is, he’s the coach. My job is just be ready to stay in there and battle if I need to.”

Chicago finished 3-1 against Minnesota in the regular season. The Blackhawks and Wild have met in the postseason three times - in 2013, 2014 and 2015 - and Chicago won all three series and twice went on to win the Stanley Cup.

Set up by Panarin, Kane opened the scoring at 51 seconds from the edge of the right circle on a shot that deflected off Wild defenseman Marco Scandella.

Panarin made it 2-0 at 4:38 on a rising one-timer from the slot that sailed over Dubnyk’s blocker. That prompted Boudreau to summon Kuemper.

“A good start, for sure,” Kane said. “We knew we needed to have this one.”

Crawford was sharp in the second period, stopping all 20 shots he faced. Meanwhile, van Riemsdyk scored at 5:28 during a delayed penalty to make it 3-1.

Minnesota’s Ryan White pulled down Jordin Tootoo along the left boards. Play continued and Marcus Kruger stepped in and fed the loose puck to van Riemsdyk, who had streaked to the edge of the crease.

Granlund cut it to 3-2 just 46 seconds into the third. But Chicago responded with 6:18 left, with Duncan Keith making an outstanding pass to free Hossa for his first goal since Feb. 19 at Buffalo.

NOTES: Minnesota C Martin Hanzal missed the game with an illness. C Jordan Schroeder moved back in the lineup after being scratched in four straight. … Blackhawks veteran defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya were back in the lineup and paired together after getting a night off in a 4-2 loss at Detroit on Friday. … Minnesota D Christian Folin was sidelined by an upper-body injury. … The game started at 11:30 a.m. and was played before a season-high United Center crowd of 22,147. … Chicago F Tomas Jurco was a healthy scratch for the first time since being acquired in a trade with Detroit on Feb. 24. … The Blackhawks signed 22-year-old F John Hayden, one of their top prospects, after he concluded his senior year at Yale. Quenneville said Hayden is expected to join the Blackhawks’ practice on Monday.

UP NEXT

Wild: Meet the league-leading Capitals at Washington on Tuesday in the fourth of a five-game road trip.

Blackhawks: At Montreal on Tuesday to start a three-game trip that also takes them to Ottawa and Toronto.

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