Bryan Bickell scored two goals, and Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane each picked up tallies as the Chicago Blackhawks knocked off the Minnesota Wild by a score of 4-2 on Thursday night.
Brad Richards had three assists in the game, and Corey Crawford stopped 40 shots as the Blackhawks bounced back from a tough loss Tuesday night with a win against a struggling Minnesota side.
For the first time in their last six games, the Blackhawks got off to the hot start and managed to score the first goal of the game. Sharp made the play happen as he collected the puck along the boards, and he drove straight to the front of the net and forced a shot past Niklas Backstrom to put the Hawks up by a 1-0 margin early on.
Minnesota got a power play shortly after the Sharp goal, but the Blackhawks were able to kill off the penalty using big-time pressure by the forwards out near the point. A short time later, Chicago was sent to the power play as Thomas Vanek was tagged with a five-minute major for boarding Marcus Kruger, and they made the Wild pay as Kane got a pass in the low slot from Brad Richards and ripped a wrist shot past Backstrom to make it a 2-0 game.
The second period started with the Wild firing on all cylinders, and they scored a goal just a minute into the frame. The puck worked its way around to Jason Pominville behind the net, and after the Blackhawks left the high slot undefended, Jason Zucker found his spot and one-timed a shot over Corey Crawford’s glove and just under the crossbar to bring Minnesota back into the contest at 2-1.
The Wild had a great opportunity to tie things up when Sharp was sent to the penalty box on a lazy tripping penalty, but Chicago’s penalty kill came up big again. Vanek did get a shot off just as the penalty expired, but it rang off the post and stayed out. Minnesota led 11-1 in shots halfway through the period, but they still couldn’t fully erase Chicago’s lead.
Over the second half of the frame, Minnesota continued to get quality scoring chances, but Crawford stood on his head and kept the Blackhawks in front. The big play came when Jared Spurgeon got a puck alongside the net, but Crawford made an excellent glove save to keep his team in front by a one-goal margin through 40 minutes of play.
The Hawks failed to score on the remainder of a power play at the beginning of the third period, but they maintained their pressure on offense and got a goal as a result. Kane broke into the zone on a quick rush, and he tapped a pass backward to Bickell. Bickell then rifled a one-timer shot past Backstrom to give the Hawks a critical insurance goal and made it 3-1.
Over the course of the next few minutes, the Wild pushed the tempo up on offense, but they weren’t able to sneak a shot past Crawford. Zucker was stoned on a point blank attempt in front, and then Justin LaFonataine was stopped on another shot from in close as Chicago maintained their two-goal edge.
Bickell’s insurance goal proved critical late in the third period as the Wild capitalized on a 5-on-3 power play. Off a face-off victory, Pominville got the puck in the slot and ripped a wrist shot past Crawford, making it a 3-2 game.
Unfortunately for Minnesota, they weren’t able to get any closer. Bickell added an empty-netter with exactly one minute remaining in regulation, and the Hawks picked up the road victory.
Chicago won’t have much time to treasure the victory, as they will get set to take on the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night.