Brandon Saad (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The Chicago Blackhawks pulled ahead of the Minnesota Wild thanks to a Marian Hossa power play goal in the third period, but Jonas Brodin and Marco Scandella scored goals in the final six minutes of the game to lift the Wild over the Hawks by a 4-3 margin.
Jeremy Morin and Brandon Saad scored for the Blackhawks, and Corey Crawford made 19 saves in a losing effort.
The game got off to a mostly positive start for the Hawks, as they once again were able to dictate the pace with their aggressive puck-attacking style and strong puck possession strategy.
Unfortunately for them, that didn’t translate into an early lead, as it was Minnesota that instead grabbed the early advantage. The Hawks committed four players to the right wing corner of the ice where just two Wild players were, and Matt Cooke skated through the slot unmarked, and when the puck found its way to him, he didn’t miss, and put the Wild up 1-0.
The Blackhawks were able to bounce back with a couple of strong chances of their own, as Patrick Sharp had a breakaway attempt stopped by Minnesota goaltender Josh Harding, and Jonathan Toews’ rebound attempt slid just wide of the cage. Just like in the first period of Tuesday’s game against the Dallas Stars, however, none of the chances were enough to put the Hawks on the board, and they continued to trail.
The two teams traded scoring chances for the remainder of the period, with the Hawks picking up a couple on a good possession that culminated with a Niklas Hjalmarsson shot that skipped across the ice and was stopped with a quick leg pad by Harding. The Wild also got a late chance with about 40 seconds left, but Crawford was able to stop it, and the game hit the first intermission with Minnesota up 1-0.
Minnesota picked up a power play opportunity right out of the gate to start the second period, but thanks to some brave shot blocks from Johnny Oduya and Marcus Kruger, they weren’t able to convert. Crawford also made a fantastic save with the blocker late in the man-advantage situation, as Jared Spurgeon grabbed a pass in front from Mikko Koivu and put a shot on net.
Despite that quality defense, the Hawks weren’t able to translate it into much offense, as it took them nearly 11 minutes to get their first shot on goal of the period. Fortunately for them, the Wild were happy to give them a chance to get the offense kick-started when Ryan Suter went to the box for a penalty, but despite some good chances by Duncan Keith and Jeremy Morin, the Hawks couldn’t convert, and the score remained 1-0.
Another power play for the Wild came in the late stages of the second period when Sharp picked up a hooking minor, and Minnesota made short work of it. On a shot in from the point by Jason Pominville, the puck bounced off of Dany Heatley, and ended up in Oduya’s skates. As he tried to turn to play the puck, he pushed it toward the net, and Zach Parise was able to tap in the easy shot to give the Wild a 2-0 lead.
In the final minute of the period though, the Hawks were finally able to strike. After some tremendous defense by Morin prevented the Wild from getting set up in the neutral zone, the Hawks were finally able to get the puck into the offensive zone and set up possession. Kane shot from along the boards, and after the puck deflected off of Joakim Nordstrom’s stick, Morin was able to push home the rebound, and he sent the Hawks into the second intermission only trailing by a 2-1 margin.
Early on in the third period, the Hawks struck again. After Suter took a spill under duress from Saad, the Hawks’ dynamic sophomore forward was able to pick up the puck and fired a great shot over Harding’s blocker, and less than a minute into the third period, Chicago knotted the game up 2-2.
Just five minutes in, the Hawks got another power play opportunity, and this time they were able to capitalize. Nick Leddy put a nice pass on the rush onto the stick of Kris Versteeg, and he immediately pushed the puck forward into the path of the streaking Hossa. In the blink of an eye, Hossa had unleashed a wicked wrist shot that he tucked just underneath the crossbar, and the Hawks suddenly found themselves with a 3-2 lead as the period neared its halfway point.
Even with that kind of momentum pushing them forward though, the Hawks weren’t able to get any good sustained pressure on Harding through the remainder of the game, and the Wild took advantage of some Chicago miscues. They frequently were pushing the play into the Hawks’ end of the ice, and even though some really solid defense by the Chicago forwards prevented the Wild from getting many chances of their own, it was a bit of ominous foreshadowing for what was to come.
Later in the third, the Hawks had Nordstrom, Bollig, and Smith out as a line, and the Wild took full advantage of the defensively-deficient bunch, establishing a lengthy possession. Brent Seabrook ended up committing a penalty behind the net, and the Wild were rewarded with a power play. In short order, they converted on that man-advantage situation to tie the game, with Spurgeon feeding Brodin at the top of the face-off dot, and Brodin’s shot ended up deflecting off of Oduya into the net to tie things up at 3-3.
In spite of the wake-up call, the Hawks ended up hitting the snooze button, and the Wild continued their surge. When Versteeg and Kane both failed to get the puck up the boards to clear it from the defensive zone, the Wild took full advantage, and a nice cycle from Charlie Coyle and Spurgeon put the puck on Scandella’s stick, and his shot past a screen ended up eluding Crawford, and the Wild grabbed a 4-3 lead with just under two minutes remaining in the third period.
Quenneville ended up loading up his lines with 1:17 remaining in the game, but they couldn’t get a sustained push going thanks to some sloppy passing and aggressive Minnesota defense, and ultimately the comeback attempt fell short as the Hawks dropped their second game in three nights.
The Blackhawks will try to get off their mini-skid on Friday night when they take on the Anaheim Ducks at the United Center.