The Minnesota Wild got behind early against the Chicago Blackhawks, and despite some great stretches of hockey they were unable to complete the comeback and fell 3-1 to the Hawks in a Sunday evening contest in Chicago. For the Wild, it would mark the first time the team has lost consecutive games since October 13-15 against the Hurricanes and Predators.
All was right in the world once again as the Wild got off to one of their patented slow starts. It didn’t take long before Chicago started skating harder and tilting the ice in their favor. But it would be a bench gaffe which led to the Blackhawks first goal. The Wild would take a too many men on the ice penalty and the Hawks took it from there. Jonathan Toews would redirect a nice pass from 88 and put the Blackhawks on the board with a power play goal 8:26 into the first period.
The Wild would start to tilt the ice in their favor in the second half of the period, but a bad bounce led to a breakaway goal from Brandon Saad giving the Hawks a 2 goal lead heading into the break. Saad made a nice move to shuffle the puck past Matt Dumba, who in turn whiffed on a hit that let Saad into the defensive zone all alone. Saad made a nifty move to beat an Alex Stalock poke check, and tucked the puck into an open net.
The Wild were getting a few good looks in the first period, but Chicago did a good job of clogging up the shooting lanes and clearing out the paint. The Hawks definitely held the edge in play for the first period, winning on the scoreboard 2-0 as well as with shots on goal with a 16-11 advantage. Still, the Wild finished the period strong and set themselves up for success in the second.
The Wild came out skating hard in the second period, and it wouldn’t be long before that would pay dividends. Henri Jokiharju would get tagged for interference when he impeded J.T. Brown trying to chase down a loose puck, giving the Wild their first power play of the evening. Zach Parise would capitalize on the power play, in a near identical goal to the one Toews scored in the first, with Mikko Koivu feeding Parise who redirected the puck past Corey Crawford in net for the Hawks.
The goal, along with another power play opportunity shortly after, seemed to breath new life into the Wild who were playing on the second night of back-to-back games. The Wild would not convert on their second power play opportunity, but they really controlled the play and were able to pile on the chances against Crawford. The Wild would finish the period with 15 shots on goal to the Hawks only mustering up 7 attempts on goal. The Staal - Granlund - Zucker line was reunited and they really dominated the play when on the ice.
The Wild would continue to apply pressure throughout the entire third period but could not find a way to get the puck past Crawford. Dominik Kahun of the Blackhawks would net an empty net goal late to seal the Wild’s fate. Adding to the Wild’s misfortune, Marcus Foligno would leave the game after blocking a Brent Seabrook shot off the outside of his right knee in the third period. He would not return to the game but was seen walking around after the game with a visible limp.
In the final 2 periods the Wild peppered Crawford with 29 shots but only were able to find the twine once. And those are just the shots on goal. The Wild had plenty of opportunities which were tipped wide, and Eric Staal rang iron late in the game as well. Crawford, as we’ve come to know in Minnesota, was on his game as he typically is against the Wild.
Foligno will get a couple days to ice that leg as the Wild will be on the shelf until Wednesday when they welcome the Ottawa Senators to St. Paul. The Senators beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-4 on Saturday, and will faceoff against the Florida Panthers on Monday before landing in Minnesota. The Wild will not be keen on extending their losing streak to a season worst 3 games. I would imagine Boudreau will have the boys ready to go.