ST. PAUL, Minn. – Dominik Hasek needed just 20 saves to record his 72nd career shutout in the Detroit Red Wings’ 3-0 victory over the banged-up Minnesota Wild on Friday night.

Hasek was hardly challenged by Minnesota’s stagnant offense all night, and Dan Cleary, Niklas Lidstrom and Mikael Samuelsson scored against the Wild, who were shut out for the first time since Nov. 1, 2005, a span of 93 games that was the second-longest streak in the NHL behind Detroit’s 144.

The Wild lost for the 11th time in 15 games and have been in a freefall since starting the season a franchise-best 6-1. Injuries have crippled them over the last month, with high-flying winger Marian Gaborik missing his 18th straight game with a groin injury.

Pavol Demitra has been out since Nov. 20 with a head injury and reliable veteran Wes Walz is also missing with an injured hip flexor.

Another sign that luck isn’t on Minnesota’s side? Defenseman Kurtis Foster was hit in the throat by an puck while sitting on the bench in Wednesday night’s loss to San Jose and is expected to miss extended time.

Gaborik has been skating in practice all week and can’t get back a moment too soon for the Wild, who have managed just 36 shots on goal in their last two games.

Manny Fernandez made 20 saves for the Wild and fell to 1-8 in his last 11 starts after starting the season 8-1.

Sabres 4, Rangers 3

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Daniel Briere scored the lone goal in the shootout, Ryan Miller made 36 saves, including six in overtime, and Brian Campbell had a goal and an assist in the Buffalo Sabres’ 4-3 win over the New York Rangers on Friday night.

Jochen Hecht and Chris Drury also scored for the Sabres, who won their second straight.

The Sabres swept the four-game season series from the Rangers, and became the fifth team in NHL history to accumulate at least 20 victories through 25 games, the first since Ottawa won 21 of its first 25 last season.

Three of the four games between the two teams went to overtime.

Michal Rozsival, Martin Straka and Michael Nylander scored for the Rangers, who lost their third straight, all in overtime.

Blackhawks 5, Blues 2

CHICAGO – Tuomo Ruutu scored his fifth goal in six games and Nikolai Khabibulin made 29 saves to lead the Chicago Blackhawks to a 5-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Friday night.

Chicago won its second straight, improving to 2-0 under new head coach Denis Savard, who replaced Trent Yawney on Monday.

Jeff Hamilton, Tony Salmelainen, Mikael Holmqvist and Martin Lapointe also scored for the Blackhawks, who dealt the Blues their fourth consecutive loss. Holmqvist and Lapointe scored empty-net goals in the final minute.

Khabibulin lost a bid for his first shutout as a Blackhawk – and first in regular-season play since March 1, 2004, while with Tampa Bay – when Blues defenseman Dennis Wideman scored a power-play goal 34 seconds into the third period.

St. Louis’ Bill Guerin scored late in the third.

Blues starting goalie Curtis Sanford left the game just 6:15 in after suffering an leg injury that led to the game’s opening goal – by Hamilton – on Chicago’s third shot.

Manny Legace took over in nets, allowing two goals on 27 shots.

AP-ES-12-01-06 2305EST


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