Scott Darling was terrific and the Blackhawks erased a two-goal deficit in the second period, but a rare shootout opened the door for the Wild to win a feisty game at the United Center on Sunday night.
The first period looked like it might cure insomnia. Chicago got four minutes of early power play time as Zach Parise received a double-minor for high sticking Michal Rozsival but the Hawks weren’t able to get anything done on the extended advantage. The Hawks out-shot the Wild 13-7 in the first, but both goaltenders were on point and neither team was able to convert.
Scoring came easier in the second period, as both teams put two on the board.
Erik Haula, who has haunted the Hawks this year (five points in four games), opened the scoring only 50 seconds into the middle stanza. Nino Niederreiter extended the lead to two at 7:04, less than ten seconds after the Hawks successfully killed a Marian Hossa penalty.
But the Hawks fought back, led by their fourth line. Andrew Shaw had one helluva game, getting the Hawks on the board with his 12th of the season 94 seconds after Niederreiter’s goal. Shaw’s line continued to do work, and Richard Panik finished another tremendous shift six minutes later with his fourth of the season to bring the game to a tie.
That would be the sum of the offense for both teams, however.
The excitement in the third period came when Matt Dumba lit up Patrick Kane as he came across the middle of the ice. Kane’s head was down and the puck was between his skates, and Dumba unloaded with a big hit that sent Kane to the room for a few moments to collect his thoughts. Artemi Panarin came to Kane’s defense and picked up a roughing minor for his efforts. Chicago killed that penalty as well.
Damian Echevarrieta, the Vice President of the Dept. of Player Safety, weighed in on the hit on Twitter during the game.
FYI – Unavoidable head contact as specified in rule 48. pic.twitter.com/1IElMZfr9n
— Damian Echevarrieta (@Ech28) March 21, 2016
Minnesota put 33 shots on net in regulation, but Darling was up to the task. Looking more like the Darling that came to the Hawks’ rescue in the first round of last year’s playoffs, Darling made a number of spectacular saves to keep his team in the game. He was aided by a number of Wild whiffs at an open net, including one by Parise in overtime that could have easily ended the game.
In the shootout, Jonathan Toews, Kane and Panarin all came up empty. Charlie Coyle beat Darling in the first round of the skills exhibition to earn the second point for Minnesota.
Not only did Haula score the game’s first goal, but he won 18 of 22 faceoffs in a dominant performance. His game has taken off since the coaching change in Minnesota, and he’s been a pain in the Hawks’ ass during the season series.
Teuvo Teravainen struggled at the dot, winning only three of 15 faceoffs in 12:39 in the game. Toews won 16 of 29 and was credited with four hits and three blocked shots, one of which came on a tremendous penalty kill in the overtime session.
Niklas Hjalmarsson led Chicago with six blocked shots, while Brent Seabrook led the Hawks with six hits. Duncan Keith (28:49) and Trevor van Riemsdyk (28:16) led the Hawks in ice time, while Erik Gustafsson disappeared; the rookie defenseman skated only 6:31 in the game but managed two shots on net in ten shifts.
Devan Dubnyk stopped 29 0f 31 in the win.
The Hawks host the Dallas Stars – without Tyler Seguin – in a huge Central Division game on Tuesday night.