Blackhawks Tame Wild
Just as they did in the spring, Minnesota gave the Blackhawks all they could handle on Tuesday night at the United Center. But the Hawks had enough offense to escape with a win over a division rival.
Thomas Vanek opened the scoring in the first period off a pretty pass from Mikael Granlund. He was left all alone in front of the net and took advantage, scoring his fourth of the season. Minnesota and Chicago each put nine shots on net in the opening 20 minutes.
The second period was as dominant as the Hawks have been all season.
Chicago put 21 shots on net and scored three times to take a strong lead. Brent Seabrook tied the game on a rush, taking a pass from Kris Versteeg and blowing a shot past Niklas Backstrom for his sixth goal of the season.
A little more than four minutes later, Marian Hossa scored his sixth of the season off a nice setup from Jonathan Toews. Seabrook picked up the second assist on Hossa’s goal.
And a little more than four minutes after Hossa’s goal, Toews added a highlight to his 2015 Selke nomination file.
Toews picked Christian Folin’s pocket and set up Ben Smith on the doorstep. Backstrom made a couple saves, but Toews tapped home a loose puck for his 12th of the season.
Minnesota managed only eight shots on net in the second period, with four of them coming after Toews’ goal appeared to blow the game open.
But a two-goal lead wasn’t safe.
Hossa was called for tripping on a Nino Niederreiter breakaway, and Niederreiter was awarded a penalty shot that he converted. Three minutes later, Marco Scandella tied the game at three and Minnesota appeared to have captured the momentum.
But penalties on Brett Sutter and Erik Haula gave the Blackhawks their second and third power plays of the game late in the third, and the home squad was able to convert.
Patrick Kane banked a shot off a defenseman’s skate for the game-winning goal on the Hawks’ third power play at 16:32, his team-leading 15th goal of the season. Ben Smith added an empty net goal in the closing moments to make the final score 5-3 Hawks.
When the dust settled, Kane, Toews and Seabrook had one goal and two assists each. Smith was credited with an assist on Toews’ goal to have a multi-point game as well. Toews also won 12 of 17 faceoffs and added one blocked shot, two hits and two takeaways in the game.
Shockingly, Tuesday night saw another appearance of a more physical Bryan Bickell. Bickell was credited with seven of the Hawks 23 hits in the game and continued to show more intensity since Patrick Sharp joined Andrew Shaw and Bickell on the third line.
Without Duncan Keith in the lineup, the Hawks dressed both Tim Erixon and David Rundblad together for the first time. Rundblad started the game paired with Seabrook as coach Joel Quenneville tried to keep Erixon with Michal Rozsival and Johnny Oduya with Niklas Hjalmarsson. As the game progressed, however, Quenneville predictably skated his four veterans heavier minutes.
Even with the lineup adjustments on the blue line, Hjalmarsson led the Hawks in ice time but was still under 24 minutes in the game. Seabrook was also over 23 minutes and Oduya skated almost 22, but Rozsival (19:02), Rundblad (16:06) and Erixon (10:58) were able to contibute down the stretch. Erixon didn’t have a great game, but was credited with three shots on net. Hjalmarsson and Seabrook led the way with three blocked shots each.
In his second consecutive start, Raanta survived. He allowed three goals against 29 shots, but made a number of big saves down the stretch to preserve the victory.
The Blackhawks haven’t yet acknowledged if Keith is the latest NHL player to have the mumps, but will benefit from not playing again until Saturday in Columbus against Jeremy Morin and the Blue Jackets.
19 thoughts on “Blackhawks Tame Wild”
FYI: After the game, the Hawks sent Scott Darling to Rockford (see next post).
Also, here’s the entire record-breaking 20-round, 11-goal shootout from Tuesday night between Florida & Washington:
Either the Hawks put it in cruise control going into the 3rd with a 2 goal lead or the Wild picked up their game, or both, because the game went from as firmly in hand as can be with a 2 goal lead to anyone’s game in the first few minutes of the 3rd. Even before the Wild got their second goal on the penalty shot, they had the Hawks on their heels from the start of the 3rd period.
But in the end the good guys won and that’s all that matters.
Except that the Hawks need to do better at defending the slot. For the third goal in a row, going back to the last Islander goal and then the lone Flames goal and then the first Wild goal tonight – all scored from the slot with the shooter unchecked. All three of those goals could have and should have been prevented if the forwards were paying attention to the guy slipping into the slot instead of having their backs to the blue line watching the guy with the puck. They need to be better than that and they can be with less standing around watching the play and more focus on their defensive assignment. Someone needs check that guy and if he makes a pass that results in a goal – so be it but at least you’re not giving the guy the whole net to shoot at with a point blank straight on shot from the slot.
OK, end rant. They won the game against a Central Division opponent. All is well :)
# 7 sure stepped up nicely in #2’s absence. I think there is some hope for Runblad. He is a smooth and fairly fast skater who made a few good offensive rushes last night. There was one Wild semi breakaway that 5 caught the man and 34 was left in the dust. Maybe his hockey IQ will improve with some experience. Speaking of 34, he looked slow last night and fell down quite a bit. 32 needs a break. Watching him try to skate backwards is funny. We sure are lucky to have 19 and 88. 88’s puck control is a thing of beauty. Hurry back #2. Go Hawks
After a tepid 1st period where the Wild really concentrated on shutting down Hawks d zone breakouts, the 2nd was a WTF is going on turnaround for the home team. Normally the Hawks seem to put the gas down in the 3rd after a not so great 2nd period. Not last night. The Toews line in particular really looked dominant out there last night. So after the euphoric 2nd intermission we come back to watch the Wild tie it up and then a fluke, I’ll take the winning goal from Kaner off a Wild skate. And you know screw these whiny Wild wascals bitching about the Haula hook call. The ref was 15 feet away and watched the play. Looked like a hook/hold to me from my angle, otherwise Kaner beats Haula and puck stays in O zone. Does that play get let go because it’s late in a tie game? Sure plenty of times, but the Wild got away with plenty last night, which to a degreee might have been why that Haula penalty was called. Yes, I thought the refs were bad for both teams last night, but Wild fans were gloating over Sutter crushing Versteeg from behind into the crossbar which was an attempt to injure play and not called. At a minimum that gets 2 for blatant interference. If I recall, it would have given the Hawks a 2 man advantage for about 35-40 seconds. Then Prosser drills Versteeg as well and nothing was called. Wild fans also wondered why Prosser goes off for elbowing Shaw in the head in the middle stanza….??
Hurts to say it, but some props to Niederreiter on slick penalty shot finish.
Defensive pairing made for an interesting night. Think they missed Keith out there? Let’s hope he gets well soon. Not to dismiss Jackets game Sat, but given the hot streak Leafs are on we will need Duncs back for the Sunday game, which by the way, has the makings of a really good one.
ER makes a great point about letting guys float in d zone slot with little to no coverage. Shots from that area in the killing zone. Forwards have to be more vigilant. This happens it seems 2 times each game. Raanta had no chance with that Vanek shot.
So Darling is back to Rockford. Raanta is capable, but for whatever reason Darling makes me less nervous. Different style for sure. Darling seems a bit calmer. Raanta reminds a little of the style Hasek used to play. It is comforting though knowing we have 3 good keepers moving forward.
What a run by the Hawks, and what we have a point up on the Blues? Tough division for sure, and the Ducks aren’t exactly stopping to rest either. Hope the guys get some needed rest next few days. Busy weekend.
Lets Go Hawks!
1961– Runbad did look better… until he skated the Puck in way to deep and stayed in too long… leading to the break-away take down by Hoss… AND the Hawks were up 3-1 at time (that was a poor Game-situation decision).
Erixon- is/was still way more “alive/aware” than both 6/44… was/is he the answer ( I don’t know)… but – still way better than both 6/44 for right now…
Still like to see (Johns/TJ/Pokka) get an audition at some point… but until there is an injury or more bad play- 34/5 will due.
ER- that soft spot in the Hawks D- needs to be corrected.
ANA probably will get the 1 seed because that division has the only two bad teams in it. STL usually has good reg. season records and NAS started 10-2-1 or something. Even though it doesn’t seem like that much, but weve gained a lot of ground on them. What matters the most is we are playing really good (good in some) and are getting better as we go along.
Phil, I am sick of the refs letting the other teams get away with 5min penaltys and calling 2 or 2min and not calling. No matter what I say about it, it just doesn’t make a diff., but its still horse shit every time they do it. Can we buy at least 5 evenly refd games every 10 game segments.
Whats real nice is as each game goes along, you feel like where going to explode at some point and in the 3rd you have that feeling of were going to score when were down one. Keep playing the same way all game and at some point we just explode for a few goals in a period.
Hawks have the third fewest penalties in the league and have drawn the most. Take that as you want to.
While it was a pretty great pass from Granlund, Oduya took a bad angle and allowed him to pass it between him and the net. Can’t let that happen, have to force it to the outside.
I like this new Kris Versteeg… I like him a lot. Getting all of the points, taking punishment in front of the net, and… making defensive plays? Who knew!
On the Penalty Shot – Don’t really blame Rundblad for taking a puck in deep, regardless of the score. The Hawks do this constantly and the forwards need to know to support the d men. Can’t let a forward get behind you when your defensemen is down that low.
All of these wins are starting to get boring.
Wall- Yes, that was a mental mistake on Runblad’s part that led to the breakaway. I think he has some decent physical tools but just needs to clean up the bone headed mistakes. I would like to see Q give him 8-10 games in a row and see what happens. 34/5 is more preferable to me than 32.
We have good stats on penaltys for/against, but we should have several more drawn then we do. Its our style of play. The other team shouldn’t get away with more just because of our good stats/skill.
JS, the new Versteeg is the same guy we knew in 2010, but has become more mature/smarter. Now that he has his legs back Versteeg is always looking to make plays, sometimes with negative results re: pucks that he should dump deep as opposed to making a somewhat risky pass that ends up going the other way with an odd man break. Playoff Versteeg from last year was the guy from Bizarro world compared with the guy skating now.
I would still like to see PK units mixed in with Sharp and Versteeg to give Hoss and the Cpt. cumulatively less minutes.
Lets Go Hawks!
Anyone else suspect that Kane’s game winning goal was an intentional play on his part?
I’ve only seen the replay a couple times, but from that angle it shows there appears to be enough room for the pass to get through, and Kane could have easily “threaded the needle”……..
My first reaction after seeing the replay was that he did it on purpose……
Re: defensive lapse in slot. Agree they have to do a better job out front but that goal was as much Oduya’s fault as it was the forwards. He was slow on getting over to cover post side thereby allowing a ‘free pass’ out front. Wasn’t Oduyas best night.
Ten out of eleven, great run. I remember not so long ago when this team was 7-6-1 and every game looked the same : lots of shots on goal, cycling and passing yet very little finishing. Thank God that funk is over.
The next few days should give Erixon a chance to get a few practices in which should help him get more comfortable. Keep in mind, in Columbus he was not playing every game but it looks like he will be here in Chicago.
Interesting remark by Q after the pre-game skate, he said Rundblad moves the puck well and has good vision just needs to do things quicker. Q also said he’s been in a tough spot getting scratched because he is a right handed defenseman who has been forced to play the left side. So the bottom line is rundblad is not going to see the ice much unless it’s an emergency like last night or rosy sits here and there. He will have to make every appearance count.
We miss Keith and it’s only one game. Wild plays a very conservative game and it gave the Hawks a little trouble. Power play is still a major issue again I think it’s the speed, when they stop skating and moving they seem to over think and over pass, it happens but they need to make quicker decisions with the puck and get traffic in front of the net on power play and 5 on 5. A dozen passes at least last night crossed in front of the net and no Hawks around for 20 feet? But they still look good and it’s still so early.
Hawks third line Defense men, defense by committee must learn that they are not Duncan Keith when it comes to offense, when it comes to being pinched below the opponents net, taking too many chances, and not covering. Keith is in a league all his own and the new guys as well as ODUYA & Company need to know when to jump in or not. Oduya gets pinched more than anyone in the offensive zone. All good no ones perfect just Keith and Bobby Orrrrrrr!
Does anyone else think MIN 22 N.NIEDERREITER dove a bit on his penalty call. I saw the replay on TV only once at full speed. Anyone, anyone, anyone, Buehler, anyone?
Montana, more people mentioned that (it seems) being the wrong call then no 5min for elbowing 65 head and no 2min for checking down 23 into net (which is same thing as 10 checking down a guy, called)(but not into net/bar). To me these two penaltys pissed me off more then that, but dive or not 81 did touch his skate with his glove. Dive then both should have gotten called. I know its frowned upon to talk about refs, but its hilarious when we get so much not called when other teams do this stuff to us and then COL and MIN coachs complain after the game that their team got screwed. When their teams were the ones that got away with several more penaltys.
I was at the game and to my angle which was from the other end of the ice, I thought he had control and jumped after shooting. Could be he dove to the right to miss crashing the net too. Ref made the call and the guy made a great shot. Hawks won, and Wild fans are still crying that they were jobbed by late game call on Haula.
Lets Go Hawks!
I agree with Wall regarding Rundblad’s stupidity in going so deep into the offensive zone. With a 2 goal lead that indicates that Rundblad has a very low hockey IQ. No wonder Q does not trust him.