Well, we all knew it wouldn’t last forever. The Chicago Blackhawks lost to the Minnesota Wild, 3-2 in the shootout, giving the Hawks their first defeat of the season. However, it wasn’t a fruitless loss, since the Hawks earned one point in the standings for taking the game to overtime and later the shootout. The loss leaves the Hawks at 6-0-1 on the season for a total of 13 points.
The Wild drew first blood early in the first period on a Matt Cullen wrist shot. It only took a few minutes for the Hawks to tie it up on an Andrew Shaw wrister, his first of the season. About a minute after Shaw’s game tying goal, Hawks captain, Jonathan Toews, gave the Hawks the lead. After the Toews goal, Wild coach Mike Yeo pulled goaltender Josh Harding, after giving up 2 goals on only 4 shots. Yeo replaced Harding with Niklas Backstrom, who had started against the Columbus Blue Jackets just the night before. The Wild had a great chance with an extended power-play and a two-man advantage for over a minute, but the stingy Blackhawks penalty-kill was up to the task once again, as they killed the Wild’s golden opportunity. The Wild got in-deep, only to be stuffed by Hawks goaltender Corey Crawford, who made several clutch saves during the penalty-kill. Things were certainly looking up for the Hawks.
Less than a minute into the 2nd period, Wild right winger, Cal Clutterbuck was awarded a goal as a Tom Gilbert shot deflected off of his skate and past Crawford, to tie the game at 2 goals apiece. The game was shaping up to be an offensive barn-burner of a game, but the scoring came to an abrupt stop, as the in-deep, quality scoring chances became few and far between.
The Hawks failed to capitalize or create many quality chances in the third. Even being on the power-play couldn’t give the Hawks an offensive boost or an edge on Niklas Backstrom. Even though, the Hawks failed to find an offensive spark after the first period, they played solid defensively, and killed off a late game Wild power-play.
Regulation ended in a 2-2 tie, and the stalemate bled into the 5-minute overtime period, leading the Blackhawks to their first shootout of the season.
The Wild kicked off the shootout with a beautiful goal from Zach Parise, but the Hawks answered with a simple-but-sweet goal from Jonathan Toews.
Matt Cullen, who scored his first goal of the season earlier in the game, buried a wrist shot past Crawford, leaving the Hawks fate in the game up to Patrick Sharp, who just missed scoring, as his shot ricocheted off the cross bar, giving the Wild the shootout victory over the Blackhawks.
Brandon Saad continues to play strong hockey on the top line with Toews and Hossa, but has no points to show for it. The points will come, hopefully the lack of points doesn’t cause him to start pressing. If he keeps playing how he has, the Hawks can’t ask for much more.
Corey Crawford kept the Hawks in the game with several clutch saves on the Wild’s quality chances.
The Hawks penalty-kill has arguably been their strongest asset so far this season, and tonight’s game was no exception.
Andrew Shaw easily had his best game of the season tonight, as he scored his first goal of the season, and provided some good energy for the Hawks tonight. Hopefully this game sparks his season.
There’s no shame in this loss tonight, after all the Hawks still got a point out of it. Although the Hawks failed to take advantage of the fact the Wild had played the night before, Minnesota proved they are a much improved team this year.
Get excited, Hawks fans! The Blackhawks head to Vancouver to take on the Canucks on Friday for game 2 of this six game road trip. Puck drop is set for 9:00 PM CT.