By Randy Holndoner (@bhawkschatter)
The first meeting of the top two teams in the Western Conference took place in the United Center Sunday night. The red hot Minnesota Wild continued their winning ways, with their 17th win in their last 19 games, as they scored three unanswered goals to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2
The Blackhawks started the game with 14 shots on goal while yielding 8 to the Wild and played a good neutral zone trap to prevent odd man breaks, which was different than their previous game in Washington. Patrick Kane started the scoring with his 13th goal of the year as he wristed a shot from the far circle that Devan Dubnyk, (33 saves) got a piece of, but not enough, to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead, which held through to the first intermission.
Kane kept the scoring going as he scored his 2nd of the night right off of a faceoff to cushion the Hawks lead, 2-0. From their, the Hawks stopped playing their game and Minnesota went ...well...wild. They responded with a power play goal to cut the lead in half, as two Wild players were left alone to pounce on a Corey Crawford (29 saves) rebound. Chris Stewart would then tie the game at two as he went short side on Crawford while being left wide open at the slot. Both Dubnyk and Crawford made huge saves the rest of the period keeping the game tied at two at the intermission.
In the 3rd, the Wild scored their 3rd unanswered goal as Jason Pominville, who hadn't scored in 20 games, was left all alone in the crease to slam a loose puck behind Crawford for a 3-2 lead. Minnesota controlled the period and a late power play and a grazed post for the Hawks were not enough to get the equalizer.
Notable Mentions: The Blackhawks may have had 35 shots on net, but 95% of those shots did not have ANY traffic in front of Dubnyk. The Wild's back check was impenetrable as they constantly would have 4 players back in their zone by the time the Hawks would reach the Wild blue line. Patrick Kane was on a mission tonight with 27:09 TOI and a career high twelve shots on goal, while Jonathan Toews had zero. The Wild have now beat the Blackhawks eight consecutive times in the regular season dating back the last three years.
3 Stars Of The Game
1st - CHI - Patrick Kane - 2G, 12 shots, 27:09 TOI
2nd - MIN - Devan Dubnyk - 33 saves, .943 SV%
3rd - MIN - Nino Niederreiter - 1G
Next game: Tuesday, January 17th, Away vs. Colorado Avalanche (13-27-1, 27 pts), Television: CSN-CH Radio: 720AM-WGN
LET'S GO HAWKS!!!
Photos provided by NHL.com