Somehow the Chicago Blackhawks, namely Patrick Kane, have a horseshoe up their rear-ends. This Chicago team gets awfully lucky against the Wild. Sure, Minnesota allowed the Hawks to find their game in a 21 shot, 3 goal explosion in the second period, but it wasn't even poor defense or a good play that upended the Wild Tuesday night. It was a pass across the crease from Patrick Kane, who was stationed behind the goal line, that happened to deflect into the net of Jonas Brodin's skate. What made matters worse, is that goal was scored on the Blackhawks power play that was as soft a penalty call as you would see on Erik Haula.
The first period saw the Wild match the Blackhawks shot for shot in an even opening period. Thomas Vanek scored his fourth goal of the season on a pretty feed from Mikael Granlund from behind the net of Antii Raanta. Vanek's goal was his fourth point in four games, and quietly, he has been picking up his scoring pace. Chicago and Minnesota skated to a 1-0 first period with shots tied a nine apiece.
For the first eight minutes of the second period, Chicago was starting to finds its game and picked up the pressure on the Wild defensemen, who were without Jared Spurgeon for the second straight game to illness, and also featured Justin Falk and Nate Prosser as the third defensive pairing. Brent Seabrook unleashed a Howitzer to tie the game after the Wild were caught running around their own zone for a number of shifts in a row. The Blackhawks continued to pressure after the Seabrook goal, and Marian Hossa, who has every team's number, especially the Wild's, scored after the Wild decided to sit idly by when the Hawks were buzzing. To cap off the third period, it was Jonathan Toews who stripped Christian Folin's pocket and found Ben Smith all alone in front of Niklas Backstrom. He got three cracks before the puck popped over Backstrom and Toews directed the puck in. The comeback seemed insurmountable as time expired for the second period.
Minnesota has come back in a few of its previous games and were looking to do it again at the United Center. Nino Niederreiter was found alone on a breakaway by Jason Pominville. Niederreiter was hacked at and tripped by the back-checking player that resulted in a penalty shot. Nino, with a second go at it would not just score, but razzle-dazzle with a sick, filthy, whatever adjective you want to use, display of hands to get the Wild within one. Two minutes and 50 seconds later, Marco Scandella tied the game after his point shot deflected off a Hawks defender and into the net. Jason Zucker was screening Raanta on the play and there was little chance he saw it go in.
The Wild were feeling good about themselves and started trading chances back and forth with Chicago. Niederreiter almost got another goal. Backstrom had to be solid. The Wild gave the Blackhawks a power play after a Brent Sutter hooking minor.
By the way. Brent Sutter had himself a nice game in being called up Tuesday night. He did well to protect his net by giving Kris Versteeg a little nudge out of the crease, and had some good shifts of the offensive zone while playing on the fourth line.
The Wild killed that Sutter minor and attempted to get back on track. Then Erik Haula was called for hooking at the Wild blue line. Head Coach Mike Yeo didn't like the call. in the post-game Yeo said this: "That time in a hockey game in a tie game, a one-handed hook on a dead play, pretty frustrating. I don't understand it."
That play resulted in Kane's game winning goal.
Minnesota pulled the goalie with 1:46 left. They had maybe two great chances, but the Blackhawks' defense knows how to defend leads and was able to clear the zone. Ben Smith gobbled the puck up, streaked down the right side and scored the empty net goal to finish the Wild off.
Yeo didn't want to talk about the second period after the game. In fact, he was quite reluctant to talk about it because he thought the team played a great first and third period. He felt the team did what they needed to do to win. He was very perturbed about the Haula hooking minor, as was the whole team.
Wild head home to start a four-game home stand against the Boston Bruins Wednesday night.