Duncan Keith tied the game for the Chicago Blackhawks late in the third period, but in the overtime period, it was Jason Zucker who had the last laugh as the Minnesota Wild knocked off the Hawks 3-2 in St. Paul.
Corey Crawford was the tough luck loser in this one, making 34 saves in the contest and helping keep the team in the hockey game while the offense sputtered throughout. We’ll have plenty of coverage on the blog after this game, but for now, here are Sunday’s Three Stars:
Third Star: Johnny Oduya
On a day that the team largely underperformed in just about every aspect of the game, Oduya looked like he came ready to play in this one. Not only did he score the game’s first goal in the first period, but he also blocked three shots and was a constant fixture on the rush for the Hawks.
While most fans will concentrate on the fact that Oduya couldn’t corral the puck behind the net on the game winning play by Zucker, it was his play in the first 62 minutes that really stood out and should be the takeaway from the contest.
Second Star: Patrick Kane
Once again, Kane showed in Sunday’s game why he is one of the best passers in the NHL. Kane, with help from Marian Hossa, drew just about every Wild defender towards the corner on Oduya’s goal, and he made sure that his pass did not miss.
Kane did basically the exact same thing on Keith’s goal in the third period, stopping at the blue line instead of cycling the puck deep and then dishing the puck over to the streaking defenseman for the top shelf tally.
Kane ended up playing with a slew of different forwards in this game, as Michal Handzus struggled on both offense and defense, and the two assists were just the icing on the cake.
First Star: Corey Crawford
Despite giving up there goals, there is zero question as to who the number one star of the game was for the Blackhawks. Crawford single handedly kept his team in the game with a slew of acrobatic saves, and showed tremendous lateral movement and an aggressive style that prevented the Wild from getting a lot of good rebounds in front of the net.
The only times Crawford struggled were when the Hawks misplayed the puck behind their own net. On the Wild’s second goal, it was Jonathan Toews who overpursued the biscuit, and Zach Parise put a backhand shot into the top corner of the net to give the Wild the lead. Finally, on the Wild’s winning goal, it was the aforementioned Oduya who failed to snare the puck behind the net, and that allowed Zucker to skate in unimpeded for the winner.
Fans claiming that this game is somehow evidence that Crawford is incapable of leading this team to a Cup championship clearly can’t look past the box score when weighing evidence. Crawford has looked dialed in ever since he allowed a cheap goal to Cal Clutterbuck in the first period of the first game, and being victimized by poor defensive and offensive play by his teammates is about as far from an indictment of his abilities as one can get.