The Blackhawks were hoping to avoid a regular season sweep at the hands of the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.
Chicago game in without Corey Crawford (upper-body), Artem Anisimov (lower-body) and Brent Seabrook (ill). Then Duncan Keith got ejected less than ten minutes into the game. So a Hawks team that struggled against the Wild at full strength was without four key contributors.
Plenty of excuses.
Chicago was already trailing 1-0 when Keith got the showers. Jarret Stoll scored his fourth of the year only 2:37 into the game to give Minnesota a lead.
When Keith left, the Hawks were left facing a five minute penalty kill (with Richard Panik in the box), down one goal, and without two of their top three defensemen.
Thankfully, Marian Hossa wasn’t having it.
Hossa’s 499th career regular season goal tied him with Troy Murray on the Blackhawks all-time short-handed goal list, and tied the game at one.
The second period was frustratingly vanilla from the Blackhawks. Chicago had two power play opportunities but generated only seven total shots on net in the middle 20 minutes. The Wild allowed the Hawks the opportunity to hang around by only putting six shots on net in the second, and the game remained tied.
Andrew Shaw dropped the gloves with Matt Dumba in the second, clearly stepping up after Dumba leveled Patrick Kane in the last meeting between these two teams.
Jared Spurgeon gave Minnesota a 2-1 lead at 4:07 into the third period, and an unfortunately predictable outcome started to present itself. When Hawks killer Erik Haula scored his 13th of the season to extend the lead to 3-1, the end result reached “it’s over” status. When Nino Niederreiter scored into an empty net inside the final two minutes, we knew the final score would be 4-1 in favor of the home team.
Scott Darling played much better than the box score will indicate. He was fantastic in the opening two periods to keep the Hawks alive, but lacking both Keith and Seabrook was simply too much for the Blackhawks blue line. Devan Dubnyk was also very good once again, stopping 18 of 19.
Trevor van Riemsdyk skated 26:16 to lead Chicago skaters, while Niklas Hjalmarsson skated 24:59 on the ice in the loss. Michal Rozsival and Shaw led the Hawks with three hits each, and Hjalmarsson and Rozsival finished tied for the team lead with three blocked shots each. Christian Ehrhoff led the Blackhawks with four shots on net.
The Blackhawks weren’t credited with a single takeaway in the game, and Chicago’s power play finished 0-3 to extend their streak to 26 consecutive advantages without a goal.
Chicago is in Winnipeg on Friday night.