They would need to be resilient early on against the Chicago Blackhawks Sunday night, as Patrick Kane opened the scoring just over seven minutes in with a wraparound that just crossed over the goal line (though it initially appeared Kaapo Kahkonen made the stop), making it 1-0 Chicago.
Patrick Kane goes for the wraparound and Kahkonen makes the stop, but it looks like Kane's second attempt got past the goal line. pic.twitter.com/HtK6aAxd67— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) December 16, 2019
Kane would score another goal just about four minutes later as his shot from the slot seemed to deflect off of a Minnesota player and into the net, extending the Blackhawks lead to two goals.
Minnesota didn’t wait too long to respond, though, as Eric Staal slammed home a one-timer on the power play for his 1,000th career point, cutting the Chicago lead in half. What a milestone for the vet.
Holy smokes, what a shot.— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) December 16, 2019
Staal is just the 89th player to ever reach the 1,000-point mark. pic.twitter.com/PyYnhg1msn
Minnesota did have a bit of an injury scare, as Jason Zucker got nailed by a Brent Seabrook dump-in attempt. Fortunately, after being helped off the ice, Zucker returned to action a couple shifts later looking as good as new.
The rest of the first period went on with not much action in terms of scoring chances for either side, and the two teams headed into the locker room for the first intermission with Chicago leading 2-1.
The Wild came out to start the second period flying, and just about two minutes in, Ryan Suter disrupted a Patrick Kane pass in the Minnesota zone and sent Kevin Fiala in on a breakaway. Fiala beat Lehner with a great shot to the blocker side to even the score up at 2-2.
GOAL. Kevin Fiala scores on the breakaway to tie the game. What a shot.— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) December 16, 2019
Minnesota kept up the pressure, and they had several great chances to take the lead, including a Gerald Mayhew shot from the slot that went just high over the crossbar.
Soon after, the Hawks responded as David Kampf redirected an Olli Maatta shot past a sprawling Kahkonen to regain the lead for Chicago with just over 11 minutes remaining in the second period.
GOAL. David Kampf redirects a shot past Kahkonen to give Chicago the lead again.— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) December 16, 2019
Then, with about 5 minutes remaining in the stanza, Kevin Fiala raced down the wing and tried to center a pass out front to Suter, but the puck instead bounced into the net off of Lehner for his second goal of the game, evening the score at 3-3. Just the way he drew it up, folks!
Looks like the puck bounced in off of Olli Maatta. pic.twitter.com/TggWBR37Lq— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) December 16, 2019
Going into the third period tied at 3-3, the two teams traded scoring chances with both Kahkonen and Lehner having to make a few good stops to keep the game tied.
Then, with about six minutes remaining, Brandon Saad scored on a redirect that hopped in the air awkwardly and rolled into the net past Kahkonen to give Chicago the lead late in the third period.
GOAL. Puck redirects up and over Kahkonen and Blackhawks take the lead with 6:17 left.— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) December 16, 2019
In the waning minutes, Minnesota would get a few nice chances as Kevin Fiala came close to notching the hat trick. But with just over a minute to go, Kane sealed the deal with an empty-net goal for a hat trick of his own, and Minnesota fell to Chicago 5-3.
Next up for Minnesota is a matchup on Tuesday night in Las Vegas to take on the Vegas Golden Knights. Minnesota has yet to lose a game in T-Mobile Arena, so as long as their confidence isn’t too shot, Minnesota might have a good chance to bounce back and get the two points on Tuesday night.
Answers To Our Burning Questions
1. Will the Wild score the first goal of the game?
Nope. With Patrick Kane scoring two goals early, Minnesota continued a sort of concerning trend of giving up the first goal in games. While it is great to know that the Wild are resilient and can come back in hockey games, you gotta stop starting the game behind on the scoreboard. Eventually it burns you, like it did tonight.
2. Can the Wild find success on the second night of a back-to-back?
While both Minnesota and Chicago looked pretty tired out there tonight, Minnesota actually played a solid game. Despite suffering defeat, it was a pretty decent effort all things considered. Although, Minnesota will have to continue to play well in sets of back-to-back games in order to stay in the playoff race late in the season.
3. Will Eric Staal get his 1000th point career point tonight?
He most certainly did, with an absolute bomb of a one-timer over the shoulder of Lehner for a goal. It has been very fun to watch Staal rebound over the past few years in Minnesota, and getting to 1,000 career points is a very big milestone for an NHL player — he’s just the 89th player in NHL history to do it.