10 observations: Lankinen stops 40 but Hawks lose in OT originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The Blackhawks fell to the Minnesota Wild 4-3 in overtime at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday.
Here are 10 observations from the loss:
1. The Blackhawks got off to a much better start than the night before. They recorded the game's first four shots and finished with 17 in the first period alone. They allowed only eight and took a 2-1 lead into intermission. It wasn't perfect, but it'll certainly work.
2. Kevin Lankinen made his first start since Dec. 18 and was lights out. He stopped 40 of 44 shots for a save percentage of .909, and 21 of those shots came from the slot, according to Sportlogiq. He didn't allow a single goal during 5-on-5 play — two of the goals against came on the penalty kill, one came during a 6-on-5 opportunity and the other in 3-on-3 overtime. He deserved better.
3. The Blackhawks survived the second period ... barely. The only reason they did was because of Lankinen. The Wild had 30 shot attempts, 20 shots on goal, 14 scoring chances and four high-danger chances in the middle frame, per Natural Stat Trick. No goals. Lankinen was an absolute wall.
4. The Blackhawks generated only three high-danger chances on Friday, which tied a season-low in a game this season. They had just three through two periods in this game and finished with seven total in regulation. Minnesota did a phenomenal job at protecting the house in back-to-back contests.
5. The Wild have scored 13 goals with the extra attacker this season. Insane. Dean Evason's aggressive call to pull the goaltender with 3:14 left in the third period paid off.
6. Chicago's penalty kill has been a work in progress for a while now, and it remains that way. The Wild scored two power-play goals and had 18 shot attempts, 11 shots on goal and seven scoring chances on their five opportunities. It didn't help that the Blackhawks committed six penalties, either. Can't do that when you have a penalty kill trying to gain confidence.
7. The Blackhawks made a power-play tweak by replacing Erik Gustafsson with Seth Jones and Jonathan Toews with Dylan Strome on the first unit and it paid off. On their first opportunity of the game, Jones connected with DeBrincat for his 24th goal of the season. Great play all-around.
8. After being a healthy scratch on Friday, Henrik Borgstrom responded in the exact way you want from a player that needed a little wake-up call. On his third shift of the game, he generated a Grade-A scoring chance then, seconds later, redirected a Gustafsson shot from the point to put his team up 1-0. He was also credited with a second goal in the third period.
9. Strome was a beast at the faceoff circle. He won 14 of 20 draws for a win percentage of 70. The rest of the team was 24-for-48 for a win percentage of 50.
10. Before the game, Jujhar Khaira (lower back) was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Jan 17. Same with Riley Stillman, who left Friday's game with a left shoulder injury. The Blackhawks were just starting to become a relatively healthy group again. Tough luck.