They coughed up two third period goals, but the Chicago Blackhawks got a late tally from Patrick Kane to help lift them to a 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.
Brent Seabrook, Marian Hossa, and Jonathan Toews all scored for the Blackhawks, and Ben Smith added an empty netter late as the Hawks won their 10th game in their last 11 contests. Antti Raanta made 26 saves in the victory.
The first period got off to a sluggish start for both teams, as the Hawks struggled to move the puck and the Wild couldn’t figure out a way to break the neutral zone pressure Chicago was putting on them. There were random chances here and there, including Kyle Brodziak ringing a high wrist shot off the post, but the game remained scoreless.
With about seven minutes remaining period, it was Minnesota that pulled ahead. Niklas Hjalmarsson turned the puck over initially, and Mikael Granlund skated in behind the Chicago net. He patiently waited for a lane to open up, and he fed a pass to the front of the net that Thomas Vanek ripped home for the goal to make it a 1-0 Wild lead.
Minnesota continued their move forward as they got a power play in the final minute and a half of the period, but they were unable to score as the first 20 minutes came to an end.
As the second period got underway, it was Chicago that started to generate some momentum. They got a power play when Nathan Prosser gave a forearm shot to Andrew Shaw, but they couldn’t quite score as their passing game continued its ineffective stretch.
Finally though, the Hawks got some good puck movement, and they scored a goal to tie things up. Kane tossed a pass back to Kris Versteeg near the point, and the forward pulled up near the face-off circle. He eventually found Seabrook with a pass as he came into the zone, and the defenseman rifled a slap shot top shelf to tie things up at 1-1.
The Blackhawks were forced to kill off a Tim Erixon penalty shortly after the Seabrook goal, but they did and then took the lead a short time later. Toews grabbed the puck behind the Minnesota net, and he pushed a pass out to the front for Hossa. Hossa didn’t get much on the shot, but it was enough to evade Nicklas Backstrom in the crease as Chicago grabbed a 2-1 advantage.
A short time later, the Blackhawks scored again with about three minutes remaining in the period. On the play, Toews stole the puck as the Wild attempted to get out of the zone, and he fed it to Smith. Smith drove to the net and got two straight chances on Backstrom, but eventually Toews popped in a loose puck to give Chicago a 3-1 lead.
The Blackhawks racked up a total of 21 shots in the second period, but Minnesota wasn’t done yet as the third period got underway. They got an early power play when Marcus Kruger was sent to the penalty box, and even though they couldn’t convert, their momentum carried over. Ultimately it was Nino Niederreiter who sealed the deal, scoring on a penalty shot and bringing the Wild back to within a goal at 3-2.
A few minutes later, Minnesota tied things up about halfway through the period. With Jason Zucker near the crease creating a screen, Marco Scandella got the puck out at the point and blasted in a slap shot that evaded everybody and snuck inside the far post to tie things up at 3-3.
Over the final 10 minutes of the period, the Hawks got two power plays, and on the second one they were finally able to convert. Kane collected the puck off a pass from Toews near the net, and he tried to feed a puck across the crease to Patrick Sharp. It didn’t reach its intended target, but it did achieve its desired result as it ricocheted off of Jonas Brodin’s skate and into the net to give Chicago a 4-3 lead.
The Hawks’ defense made a couple of nice plays after Backstrom retreated to the bench, and Smith was the beneficiary as he got the puck at center ice and eventually popped a shot into the empty net to give the Hawks their margin of victory.
The Blackhawks will have three days off to savor the victory, and on Saturday night they’ll head to Columbus to take on Jeremy Morin and the Blue Jackets.