The setting was perfect for an outdoor game, and the State of Hockey was excited to be hosting a national event.
Unfortunately, the Blackhawks never showed up.
Minnesota dominated every aspect of the Stadium Series game on Sunday afternoon, running away from the Blackhawks early and Chicago never woke up. Two first period goals were enough for the Wild to win an easy victory.
Right off the opening drop it was obvious the Hawks weren’t ready, as Minnesota had a shot on net within the opening ten second of the game. Matt Dumba got the Wild on the board at 3:25 and then the parade to the penalty box began.
Dumba was called for roughing after a big hit on Andrew Desjardins at 5:17, and Phillip Danault picked up two minors coming to his teammates defense. With Danault and Andrew Shaw in the penalty box and the Hawks short-handed, Thomas Vanek extended the lead to 2-0 in favor of the Wild.
And that second goal would prove to be enough.
Jonathan Toews and Brent Seabrook were sent to the box in the first period as well, with the Hawks successfully killing those two penalties (Seabrook’s carried over into the second period). The Wild out-shot the Hawks 11-9 in the first but the Hawks lacked any attack on the net, and most of their chances were one-and-done.
Nino Niederreiter scored his 11th of the year 2:26 into the second and the route was on. When Blackhawks-killer Jason Pominville scored his ninth of the season at 10:26, it appeared the Wild had the game safely in-hand.
There was controversy in the second period, however. As a Ryan Carter penalty was coming to a close, Michal Rozsival stood up Minnesota forward Jason Zucker with a big – and should-have-been-legal – body check. But Zucker’s head bounced off the ice and he required immediate assistance from the medical staff. Zucker needed help off the ice and was taken to the dressing room by cart; he did not return.
Rozsival received a major penalty for interference and a game misconduct on the play, penalties that were a gross overreaction by the on-ice crew based on the result of the play, not the play itself. Here’s a still of the moment of impact, clearly showing Rozsival making primary contact with Zucker’s upper torso. There is clearly no targeting taking place.
Without Rozsival – or a pulse – the rest of the way, the Blackhawks continued to go through the motions. Ryan Carter made the lead five at 2:25 into the third with his sixth of the year, and the game was emotionally over. Scott Darling replaced Corey Crawford to start the third; the score was hardly Crawford’s fault.
Patrick Kane ended the shutout bit at 12:05, but then hooked Erik Haula as he streaked toward an empty Chicago net less than two minutes later. Haula was awarded the automatic goal on the play to finish the books on the afternoon’s scoring, making the final 6-1 in favor of the Wild.
The only decent parts of the Hawks box score were Toews winning 15 of 21 at the dot and the Blackhawks killing five of six Wild power plays; of course, the Wild having six power plays is an issue. Chicago failed on both of their advantages on the afternoon.
Everything else sucked – a reflection of a lackluster effort that left a lot to be desired.
Crawford allowed four against 23 shots in two periods, while Darling was in net for one against nine shots. Devan Dubnyk stopped 31 of 32 in the victory.
Even without Marian Hossa in the lineup, this performance should give Stan Bowman a moment of pause as the team heads toward the trade deadline. Chicago has only two games – at home against Nashville on Thursday and Washington on Sunday – between now and the deadline.