Bruce Boudreau was incensed. He let the officials have it with an R-rated verbal lynching with 1:37 left in Saturday’s game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild.
Call it frustration boiling over in an entertaining game that didn’t go their way. The Wild (5-5-2) were shut out 2-0 at the hands of the rival Blackhawks (7-5-2) Saturday night. It was the Wild’s second shutout loss of the season; they started their homestand with a 1-0 loss to Vancouver.
Boudreau was fired up when a high stick to one of his players wasn’t called in the third period. Then his team had a four-minute penalty kill in front of it with a bloody high-sticking penalty against. That’s when the Blackhawks broke a scoreless game at 14:18 of the third period with a deflection goal from Artem Anisimov off a Duncan Keith shot from the point.
The Wild pulled their goaltender with a chance to tie the game late, but in the neutral zone near the blue line Jonathan Toews tripped up puck-handler Chris Stewart. The puck quickly ended up in the back of the Wild’s empty net off Alex DeBrincat’s stick. Toews got the assist.
The sequence of officiating didn’t seem to make Boudreau a happy camper.
“Well, why should it?” Boudreau said. “It’s a trip, there’s a high stick, they miss theirs, they call ours. Game over.”
Still, a team won’t win a game if it doesn’t score, something else Boudreau acknowledged after the game.
“Hey, you’re not going to win hockey games if you don’t put the puck in the net when you have open nets,” Boudreau said. “You have to score. Because eventually, the other team’s going to get that one chance and put it in.”
That’s exactly what happened as the Blackhawks took advantage of the four-minute double-minor penalty on Luke Kunin in the third.
It’s easy to pick apart the plays that led to the Blackhawks goals, but the Wild had their chances, too. Actually, the whole building – including the lighthouse – thought Nino Niederreiter scored in the first period. His shot hit the post along the ice and slid through the crease. Goaltender Corey Crawford slid in the blue paint at just right angle to take the puck with him and out of harm’s way. Despite a premature celebration, the play was immediately signaled no-goal on the ice.
In the third, the Wild generated a couple breakaway chances with Eric Staal and Jared Spurgeon. Mikael Granlund, still looking for his first tally of the season, couldn’t convert on a chance with the puck in the crease. With less than 13 minutes to go in a scoreless game, the Wild challenged Crawford, and he challenged right back, aggressively playing the puck and coming out of his crease. Mikko Koivu was denied a couple quality scoring chances.
It was shades of the Crawford the Wild have faced in the playoffs in years past. It was that same old story of getting chances but not putting the puck in the net.
Instead, the Wild finished an entertaining hockey game with a bad taste in their mouths. They were shut out for the second time on home ice and need to figure out a way to rattle off a couple victories in a row to climb the ladder in the division standings.
It’s time to hit the road and get to work.
“We’re not trying to find ourselves,” Boudreau said. “It hasn’t gone our way right now. We’ll get back to the drawing board.”
Devan Dubnyk (4-4-1) with saves. Crawford (7-4-0) with saves.
The Wild finished their season-long homestand with a 3-3 record, a .500 mark. They’re also .500 overall, winning back-to-back games just once (New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins).
Dubnyk was in search of his second career shutout against the Blackhawks and first overall this season. He’ll keep looking.
Anisimov’s goal was just the second one the Wild’s penalty kill had allowed at home this season in 22 attempts.
Though the Wild were outshot 35-24 for the game, they out-hit the Blackhawks 19-8. Plus, this time there were no fights and no player injuries.
After the game, the Wild sent Landon Ferraro down to Iowa. He’s missed seven games with a hip flexor injury. He’s played two games with the Wild this season.
The Wild go on the road again, starting with a trip to Boston to face the Bruins on Monday night.
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