The Minnesota Wild came into the United Center and easily handed the Blackhawks their second regulation loss of the 2013-14 season.
There weren’t many positives for the Hawks on Saturday night. With special teams continuing to be a concern, the Hawks were short-handed five times, allowing only one goal. Chicago’s one power play goal game with just over seven minutes left in regulation from Patrick Kane, but only brought the Hawks to within two of the Wild.
Corey Crawford allowed five goals against 25 shots, but it’s hard to hate his performance. The Wild had a number of great looks at the net from within 15 feet, and a good Minnesota team capitalized on their opportunities.
At the other end of the rink, Niklas Backstrom allowed three goals against 36 shots on the night, and made a number of huge saves at key moments to keep the Hawks from getting back into the game.
One save Backstrom didn’t make was on a goal that was disallowed by Toronto. Trailing 2-0 in the second period, the Hawks’ third line attacked the net and appeared to score Chicago’s first goal of the night. The initial ruling on the ice was a good goal, but the league review ruled that Andrew Shaw had touched the puck with a stick above the crossbar, and the goal was taken off the board.
The discussion among the on-ice officials and league office in Toronto took over eight minutes of real time to be completed.
Bryan Bickell scored with a few minutes of the delay, but any momentum was short-lived. Jason Pominville scored his first of two goals in the game less than four minutes after Bickell’s goal to push Minnesota’s lead back to two.
Bickell’s goal was his fourth in as many games, and he remained on the Hawks’ third line that was the team’s most consistent on the night. With newly recalled Jeremy Morin on the opposite wing and Andrew Shaw at center, the trio was as good as any line Chicago put on the ice on Saturday night. They combined for nine shots on net and 11 hits in the game, and both Shaw and Morin drew penalties.
Unfortunately, most of the other Blackhawks spent too much time in the penalty box for the offense to find any rhythm.
The Hawks’ penalty kill unit will get a nice boost statistically after killing four of five short-handed situations, but the fact that the team took five penalties in a game is ridiculous.
The fact that Chicago was only able to convert one of seven power plays is laughable.
These two teams will face each other again on Monday night, and the Hawks will look to change some bad trends that have developed in the last couple games.
With the team’s offense struggling, the Blackhawks must get their power play on track. They have done a good job of getting the man advantage – they have had 13 power play opportunities in their last two games – but have only converted twice.
The Hawks have allowed three power play goals in nine short-handed situations over their last two games.
Nick Leddy led the Hawks’ offense with two assists, and Jonathan Toews won 18 of 29 faceoffs. Patrick Kane skated 7:29 on the power play and 19:44 overall, but was credited with only two shots on net and two that missed the mark. Patrick Sharp led the Blackhawks with seven shots on net.
Brandon Bollig skated only ten shifts, but was credited with his first NHL assist and four hits in the game. Marcus Kruger scored his first goal of the season with 30 seconds left in regulation.
Looking at the impact of the Rockford call-ups, Brad Mills won two of three faceoffs in only 8:42 on Saturday night, but was credited with five hits. Brandon Pirri, meanwhile, won two of four faceoffs in 11:01 on the ice. Pirri did see almost four minutes of ice time on the power play against the Wild.
Of the three IceHogs forwards that skated on Saturday night, Morin looked the most at-home in a Blackhawks’ sweater.