COLUMBUS, Ohio – Nikolai Zherdev scored twice in the last 6 minutes – one on a highlight-reel move that provided the go-ahead goal – and the Columbus Blue Jackets got some payback for a bad loss three days earlier, beating the St. Louis Blues 6-4 on Friday night.

With the score tied 3-all, Zherdev swooped into the offensive zone and passed the puck to himself backward between his legs before wristing a shot from the high slot that got by goaltender Hannu Toivonen at the 5:57 mark.

After Dan Fritsche made it 5-3 on a shot from the left dot just over a minute later, Zherdev took a long pass from David Vyborny and scored on a backhander for his 17th of the season.

He had just 10 goals in 71 games a year ago.

Zherdev didn’t practice on Wednesday or Thursday after taking a hard hit from David Backes in St. Louis’ 6-1 victory over the Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.

Wild 5, Blackhawks 2

CHICAGO – Josh Harding made 41 saves, Marian Gaborik scored two goals and the Minnesota Wild handed the Chicago Blackhawks their eighth straight loss, 5-2 Friday night.

Matt Foy, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Mark Parrish also scored for Minnesota, which won its second straight despite being outshot 43-16. The Wild’s Eric Belanger had two assists.

Brent Sopel and Martin Havlat scored for injury-depleted Chicago, which is 0-6-2 during its skid. Sopel connected in his first game – and second shift – after missing seven contests with a broken finger.

Minnesota has won nine consecutive games against Chicago.

The Blackhawks last defeated the Wild on Oct. 23, 2005, and are 0-6-3 against Minnesota during the streak.

The Blackhawks played without six regulars: defenseman James Wisniewski (knee); and forwards Jonathan Toews (knee), Jason Williams (groin), Kevyn Adams (knee), Dave Bolland (broken finger) and Ben Eager (concussion).

Chicago’s Nikolai Khabibulin made only 11 saves. He stopped just two of five shots in the second period as Minnesota built a 4-1 lead.

Sopel opened the scoring 3:49 in after picking off a pass by Minnesota defenseman Brent Burns. Sopel skated straight down the slot and beat Harding on the stick side for his first goal this season.

Foy tied it at 1 at 6:36 of the first. After circling from behind the net, he stuffed a shot past Khabibulin’s pads from the left side of the crease.

Chicago outshot Minnesota 16-5 in the second period, but the Wild led 4-1 after 40 minutes. Harding made point-blank saves early in the second on Patrick Sharp and Robert Lang.

Chicago’s Rene Bourque beat Harding with a close-in shot at 8:07 of the period, but Minnesota’s Kurtis Foster swept out the puck just before it crossed the goal line.

Originally referee Dave Jackson signaled a goal on the play, but it was disallowed following a video review.

Gaborik made it 2-1 1:20 later. Following a turnover by Chicago’s Dustin Byfuglien at center ice, Gaborik snapped a shot from the left circle into the upper right corner of the net.

Bouchard’s power-play goal with 6:44 left in the second extended the Wild’s lead to 3-1. His shot from the slot deflected in off Sopel.

Parrish made it 4-1 with a minute left in the second. Following a faceoff in the Chicago zone, he ripped a low shot from the the top of the right circle under Khabibulin’s right pad.

Havlat scored a 5-on-3 power-play goal from the slot at 1:11 on the third to cut it to 4-2.

But Harding was unbeatable the rest of the way, making several sharp saves.

Gaborik added an empty-net goal with 1:35 left in the third.

Notes: Gaborik has six goals and five assists in his last seven games. … Minnesota C Mikko Koivu returned on Friday after missing 24 games with a fractured left leg and assisted on Bouchard’s goal. … Wild LW Derek Boogaard missed his 13th game with a back injury. Minnesota RW Branko Radivojevic sat out with a stiff neck.

AP-ES-01-11-08 2327EST


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