The Chicago Blackhawks’ two-game winning streak was snapped by the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. With the loss, the Blackhawks’ struggles against the Central Division continued. The Blackhawks entered this game without Brent Seabrook, Corey Crawford and Artem Anisimov. Seabrook was a late scratch due to illness. Very early in the game, the Blackhawks lost Duncan Keith on match penalty. A very short defensive team got that much shorter and it showed.
Niklas Hjalmarsson shouldered the brunt of the minutes tonight on defense. Hammer logged 24:59 of ice time. The Blackhawks had to rely more on Christian Ehrhoff, Michal Rozsival, Viktor Svedberg and Trevor van Riemsdyk. Ehrhoff got caught in the offensive zone on the Wild’s second goal. Coach Joel Quenneville said the defense was good in the first two periods and that Svedberg and Ehrhoff were “okay” tonight.
The Blackhawks fell to the Wild 4-1. The Wild goals from Jarret Stoll, Jared Spurgeon, Erik Haula and Nino Niederreiter. The Blackhawks’ lone goal was scored by Marian Hossa. It was goal 499 for Hossa.
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Here are the five things we learned:
1. The Blackhawks could not beat the Wild this regular season. The Blackhawks went 0-4-1 against the Wild this season and were swept in five-plus games by oneam for the first time since 1939. This is the third time in the franchise history that the Blackhawks have been swept in season series of five or more games. The other two instances were against the Montreal Maroons in 1936-37 (6 games) and Boston Bruins in 1938-39 (8 games).
2. Duncan Keith has been suspended indefinitely. After Keith was given a match penalty in the first period, the NHL announced that Keith had been suspended indefinitely, with a hearing sure to follow. This will be the third time Keith has been suspended in his career. The most recent suspension before Tuesday was in 2012-13 season against the L.A. Kings. Keith was suspended for high-sticking Jeff Carter in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. Keith will be at least suspended for Friday’s game against Winnipeg as a result of the match penalty.
3. The Powerplay is still bad. The Blackhawks’ powerplay has not scored a goal in nine games is 0 for its last 26. The Blackhawks were 0 for 3 on the powerplay Tuesday.
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4. The penalty kill is improving. The penalty kill wiped out four penalties, including the five-minute match penalty against Keith. The Blackhawks have not allowed a powerplay goal in their last three games. The return of Marcus Kruger and Marian Hossa could be part of the reason the Blackhawks’ penalty kill has improved.
5. The Blackhawks can count on Scott Darling for a long stretch. It was announced Tuesday that Corey Crawford could be out for a while. He is currently battling a head injury. Darling is 3-2-1 in his last six starts since the Crawford injury. In Tuesday’s game, Darling was okay. He allowed three goals on 17 shots. People could really blame Darling for the first goal; the other two were brought on by the Blackhawks losing board battles.
The Blackhawks return to action on Friday against the Winnipeg Jets.