The Minnesota Wild recovered from a very slow start to rally and secure two more points in the standings, while giving none to the hated Blackhawks. Devan Dubnyk kept his Wild squad in the game with 34 saves; 13 saves alone in the first period as Minnesota got stronger throughout the game. Ryan Suter’s game-winner in the third would be enough to down the Blackhawks, who were coming off of an 8-2 blow-out victory over the Senators the night before.
When I said the Wild started slow, I mean that the Wild just got a total of five shots on goal in the first period, to the Hawks 14 and 41 shot attempts. Chicago owned the puck and made the period look like the Blackhawks were on a continuous power play. Brent Seabrook would find the back of the net to give the Blackhawks an early 1-0 lead. Dubnyk made the initial save on Michal Kempny’s shot. But the puck hit a body in front and drifted ti Dubnyk’s left and behind the red end-line. Marcus Foligno tried to get a stick on the puck before Seabrook took a whack at it, but the puck would seemingly go around the left post, off Dubnyk, and in for the goal, Seabrook’s 2nd of the season, and 2nd against the Wild this season.
Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau challenged the play on the basis of the play being offside. It was awfully close, but the officials ruled it as a good goal. Due to the rule changes in the offseason, the Wild were assessed a minor penalty for Delay of Game. Tyler Ennis served the minor as the Wild killed it off. Was it offside? Onside? Inconclusive?
Minnesota escaped the first period lucky to be down by just the one goal. It could have been a lot to a little into the first intermission, but they missed some open nets, missed some chances, and Dubnyk was there for the rest of it. It allowed the Wild to regroup and find some (any) kind of offense. The Wild finally had some puck luck break their way in a game against Chicago. Jonas Brodin, who never shoots the puck, took a shot from the left point. The puck was redirected upwards and found room over the shoulder of Blackhawks starting goaltender Anton Forsberg. With the goal, Matt Dumba reached the 100-point plateau with a secondary assist.
Forsberg has been in with Corey Crawford sidelined with an apparent injury since being placed on Injured Reserve on December 27th.
Minnesota killed off all three Blackhawks power plays, including a penalty for an illegal check to the head by Marcus Foligno in the third period. Both teams entered the final stanza playing a pretty conservative game. Foligno finished his check on Jan Rutta, made contact to the head, and was sent to the box.
Foligno hit on Ruuta - not great, Bob pic.twitter.com/kgseDrT61P— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) January 11, 2018
So, a couple things here. I want to first qualify that I am personally not a fan of Foligno, his contract, the zero toughness he actually brings game to game, and the trade that brought him to Minnesota. Foligno hasn’t been good, and hasn’t pitched in on offense like some may have thought he would. That all said, Foligno, on this play, is allowed to finish his check. The puck was just passed away, so when Brian Boucher says that the, “the puck was gone,” on the NBCSN broadcast, it was gone for fraction of a second. The hit was not late. We’ve also seen many countless hits in this league of that very nature. Foligno engages Rutta and Rutta appears to see him approaching for the hit. Because Rutta was reaching on his follow-through on his pass out to the neutral zone, his head was leaning forward, and was beginning to move back in bracing for contact. Foligno’s shoulder/upper arm makes direct contact to the head of Rutta, and Rutta was shaken up on the play. Foligno did not extend an elbow or raise his arm even on the follow-through of the hit. There is a size difference with Foligno being taller than Rutta as well.
Rutta did leave the game for a bit, but did return. I’d like nothing more than Rutta to be completely uninjured from such a heavy hit. I’d like to have Foligno suspended so the Wild can call up Luke Kunin. But after watching this hit over and over and over, I cannot see how this hit could be deemed malicious, or deserving of any supplemental discipline.
Charlie Coyle drew a penalty during the kill of Foligno’s minor to even things up at 4 skaters aside. Mikael Granlund made a sweet between-the-legs pass to Mikko Koivu on the breakout. Koivu and Suter, with Jared Spurgeon broke the Chicago line. Koivu made a fine pass to Suter on the wing and Suter let a beauty of a wrist shot go that beat Forsberg glove side near the ear of his mask. Wild took a 2-1 lead.
The Blackhawks immediately tried to answer, and got a 2-on-1 chance. Jared Spurgeon made an exceptional defensive play to break up the pass that would have surely been the equalizer. Spurgeon showed off a few more defensive plays as the Wild were able to lock down the defensive zone and get the win.
With the win, the Wild have reached 50 points in the standings and currently hold down the 2nd Wild Card position in the Western Conference. The Wild will head home and play the next four games on home ice, where they’re a completely different team. The win also snaps a four game road losing streak.