On an emotional “Hockey Fights Cancer” Night at the United Center, the Blackhawks came out against one of the hottest teams in the league and had a terrific first period.
Chris Kunitz was a healthy scratch.
Chicago looked sharp early and was able to cash in a power play opportunity. Henri Jokiharju got the puck to Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews planted himself in front of the net. Kane, on the last day of his 20s, found his captain and the Hawks were up 1-0.
The goal is already the tenth of the season for Toews, who continues to have a strong offensive season. It was also the tenth assist of Jokiharju’s career, keeping him among the rookie leaders in the NHL.
Ten minutes later, Alexandre Fortin got the puck up the ice to a streaking Brandon Saad. Saad beat Matthew Dumba to the puck and made a good, strong power move to beat Alex Stalock to give Chicago a 2-0 lead.
The Hawks put 16 shots on net in the first period and Corey Crawford made some stellar stops.
Unfortunately the script was flipped in the second period. Almost eight minutes into the middle period, Zach Parise posted up almost the same way Toews had in the first and tipped in a pass to give the Wild a power play goal, cutting the Hawks’ lead in half. Jokiharju was in the box.
Toews went to the box 61 seconds after the Parise goal, giving the Wild another power play opportunity.
With Toews in the box, Jeremy Colliton used Fortin with Andreas Martinsen on the penalty kill – and was successful. Minnesota had a few good looks but the Hawks were able to block a couple shots and Crawford came up with a few more good saves.
Minnesota out-played the Hawks in the second; the Wild had a 15-7 shot advantage in the period. But the Hawks held a one-goal lead after 40 minutes.
Early in the third period Marcus Foligno went down and needed help off the ice with what appeared to be a left leg injury. He had skated 9:38 at that point in the game with one shot on net, but he is one of the Wild’s key penalty killing forwards. Foligno had skated 2:15 short-handed, the most of any Minnesota forward.
With 5:09 left in regulation Brent Seabrook went to the box for tripping. The Hawks were able to successfully kill the penalty.
Stalock sprinted for the Minnesota bench with 1:50 left in regulation and the Hawks clinging to a one-goal lead. Crawford made a couple enormous saves before Toews iced the puck shooting at the empty net.
Colliton sent out Dominik Kahun, David Kampf and Kane for the defensive zone faceoff and the Hawks were able to make a play. Toews jumped on the ice for a change and picked off a pass. Kahun was off to the races all alone and scored into the empty net to extend the Hawks’ lead to two with less than 60 seconds showing on the clock. Kane, who tipped the puck before Toews picked it off, was credited with the second assist on the Kahun goal.
Kane (two assists) and Toews (one goal, one assist) led Chicago with two points each. Crawford made 39 saves against 40 shots and the Blackhawks emerged victorious against a division rival.