Well that was fun, wasn’t it?
For the first time in what seems like months, we were treated to a dominating Blackhawks performance. They controlled the puck for long stretches in Minnesota’s zone, limited their turnovers, played solid defense in front of their goaltender and prevented the opposition from creating any sort of legitimate even-strength scoring chances. It was nice to see.
While the overall inconsistency of fourth-line production has chapped my ass greatly recently, I’ll gladly take tonight’s performance and chalk it up as a nice change of pace. As the Fifth Feather pointed out, this is the third time this season Tomas Kopecky has scored two goals in a game. Despite the fact both goals were goaltending miscues doesn’t matter to me one bit. Ben Eager’s three-point night surprised the hell out of me, seeing as he’s been better off in the team’s luxury suite of late. Eager’s goal was an fantastic effort, capitalizing on a turnover, skating it into the zone and firing a shot low and hard, which in turn created a rebound he followed and scored on.
Antti Niemi didn’t have much going on in front of him tonight, save for him standing on his head in the second period during Minnesota’s 5-on-3 for 91 seconds. Niemi made three brilliant saves to snuff out great scoring opportunities for the Wild. Chalk up another shutout for the rookie who will be leading this team into the playoffs, and deservedly so.
Kopecky added his second goal in the third and Jonathan Toews capped the scoring on a beautiful feed from Marian Hossa to account for the final margin. Remember that ridiculous comeback that nearly made ‘Hawks fans vomit earlier this season? Not tonight. Minnesota barely got any pressure toward the net and were basically the Washington Generals in this one.
I’m not going to say much more on this one. It’s nice to get a win to help get out of this slump, but deep down I know the ‘Hawks have still lost 7 of 10 games. After the off day tomorrow, the Blackhawks head to New Jersey to face the Devils. Let’s see how that plays out before we start stroking each other again.