On the night the Chicago Blackhawks honored Marian Hossa’s 1,000th career game, the team extended the NHL’s best start with an electrifying first period.
The game didn’t start incredibly well for the Hawks. Players on both teams appeared to struggle handling the puck (and staying on their feet), and the Wild were the first team on the scoreboard.
But, as they have done all year, the Blackhawks responded. This time, the 11 minutes that followed Devin Setoguchi’s goal made many fans in attendance think the Hawks had allowed the Wild to score out of sympathy.
First, it was Brandon Saad tying the game. At 13:02, Saad put back a rebound for his fourth goal of the season. This was only the beginning of an eventful few minutes for the Blackhawks’ rookie forward.
It took only 44 seconds for the Hawks to take the lead, as Bryan Bickell arrived with authority. Just over three minutes later, Bickell would score his second goal of the night – and fifth of the season – to extend the Chicago lead. Saad was credited with the primary assist on Bickell’s second goal.
Just 93 seconds after Bickell pushed the lead to 3-1, Saad dropped the puck to the man of the night – Marian Hossa – for a pretty goal. The assist gave Saad three points in 5:43 and appeared to put the game away.
In the second period, the Blackhawks handled their business. Through the first 40 minutes, the Hawks held a 28-10 shot advantage and had successfully maintained their 4-1 lead.
However, the third period was a different story. Minnesota outshot the Hawks 13-4 in the final period, and the Wild got as close as a 4-3 score at 10:32 in the third. But Patrick Kane responded responded 61 seconds later with the final score of the game, extending the Hawks lead to 5-3.
Saad not only had a big first period in the box score, but received a strong vote of confidence from coach Joel Quenneville before the scoring began. When Dave Bolland was sent to the penalty box 1:46 into the game, Saad replaced Michael Frolik (who was out sick) with Marcus Kruger on the team’s top penalty kill unit.
It was a good night for the Blackhawks’ centers as well.
Chicago had a strong night in the faceoff circle as well. Bolland won only eight of 18 draws, but Jonathan Toews, Andrew Shaw and Kruger each won more than half of their faceoffs. In fact, the only flaw in Saad’s performance on Tuesday night was him losing all three of his faceoffs. But as a team, the Blackhawks won 32 of 61 faceoffs in the game.
Quietly, Toews had an enormous game. He won nine of 14 faceoffs and was credited with four takeaways and four hits. Also, Toews was one of seven different Blackhawks to be credited with an assist in the game; the Hawks captain had two helpers on the night.
Meanwhile, Shaw led the Blackhawks with five hits and won eight of 13 faceoffs. Bolland, Shaw, Kruger, Viktor Stalberg, Patrick Sharp and Niklas Hjalmarsson were also credited with assists in the game.
When the dust settled, Corey Crawford had allowed three goals against 23 shots to earn his tenth victory of the season.
Daniel Carcillo and Brandon Bollig skated nine shifts each, but each still managed to be minus-one for the night. They combined to skate 10:35 against the Wild on Tuesday.
The Hawks won’t have to wait long to get another chance to extend their record-setting streak as the Colorado Avalanche visit the United Center on Wednesday night.